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Thread: critiques of science

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    found this today. to my very much limited research and knowledge, seems a pretty good summary of some ideas i'm very much interested in at the moment. entire article below:


    What is the intellectual foundation of science? What is the basis of the claim of scientists to have access to a higher form of knowledge? Often scientists simply assert the claim, without bothering to probe the philosophically murky foundation on which all knowledge ultimately rests. According to scientists, research is conducted in an objective spirit of scientific inquiry, that discoveries add to our ever-growing knowledge about the universe, and that it is self-evident that science will in due course improve the lot of humanity. Television reinforces such views with the use of laboratory technicians as a source of evidence about the germ-killing properties of a particular brand of bleach, or the clinically-proven ability of a mouth wash to fight bad breath.

    In 1979, Jean-François Lyotard was asked by Quebec's Conseil des Universités to review the state of scientific knowledge and information in the late 20th century. He looked at how knowledge comes into being, who controls it, who has access to it, and how it becomes accepted as valid. He concluded that science's claim to possess a higher kind of knowledge was seriously flawed.
    For Lyotard, scientists have no more direct access to the truth than philosophers or historians, or anybody else for that matter. For him, scientists are storytellers. Thus it is not possible to describe the result of an experiment except by telling a story. The narratives that scientists produce, such as research papers, hypotheses, histories, are always governed by the protocols of the field in which they work. Each discipline is like a game. It has a special terminology which only makes sense within its own boundaries. In practice, a theorist or researcher is not faced with infinite possibilities to explore, and can only play within the limits of a system of permissible moves. The scope of permissible moves is determined by the power structure of the particular branch of science in which the scientist is working, which is just as political and unscientific as any other human activity.

    Thus, according to Lyotard, narrative is not a sub-branch of science. The truth is exactly the opposite: science actually comprises particular branch of narrative. In effect, science is a sub-set of storytelling. Science is made up of language games which generate particular forms of narrative. Lyotard's view goes against the common sense view of science as a superior form of knowledge. It also contradicts modern science's view of itself.

    For science to maintain its privileged status, it has usually tried to deny its own involvement in storytelling, denigrating storytelling as the epitome of the unscientific, the very thing that science must fight against, and expel from civilized discourse and education systems.

    Science thus pretends to be beyond narrative. How does science do this? Ironically, it appeals to a story, or what Lyotard calls grand meta-narratives. A meta-narrative is an over-arching story, which can supposedly account for, explain, or comment on, the validity of all other stories. It is implicitly a universal or absolute set of truths, which transcends social, institutional or human limitations. Thus, a small local narrative, such as the result of a scientific experiment, or an individual action, is usually granted significance only by its ability to reflect or support some broader narrative which people generally support, like the pursuit of truth, justice, or economic growth.

    Lyotard argues that some time around the 18th century, science developed the view of itself as the source of enlightenment. Prior to this, appeals to religious narratives had often been used to guarantee truth. Now, building on its practical successes and on the theoretical work of Francis Bacon and others, science took over and put forward the claim that it alone was the source of truth. It suggested that being scientific or rational was the sign of credibility. Possessing scientific knowledge implied that you could get behind mystification and superstition, reveal the facts about world and lead all of humanity to a brighter day. The underlying assumptions were:

    - science is progressive, moving towards a state of complete knowledge;
    - science is unified, with many different areas, but all sharing the same goal;
    - science is universal, working for the good of all of us, and
    - science aims at total truth that will benefit all of human life.


    Thereafter, science justified itself through the neat trick of claiming that science needed no further justification. Thus, it took advantage of the idea that its activities were pursued in the name of the timeless meta-narratives of progress, emancipation and knowledge. By appealing in this way to ideas whose meanings were quietly assumed to be self-evident and universally agreed, science was able to masquerade as a single project, objectively carried out for the good of the entire human race.

    More recently, particularly in the last few decades, scientists have had growing difficulty in getting away with these claims, and cracks in the facade of science's grand meta-narrative have been appearing:

    - science's own contribution to ecological problems and the development of nuclear and chemical weapons has made obvious that science is not always directly beneficial to the human race;
    - groups who perceived themselves as disadvantaged by the existing political and institutional arrangements (women, developing countries, the poor) have argued that the science's claims to benefit the entire human race have often turned out, on closer inspection, to be linked in practice to promoting the interests of privileged minorities.
    - the outcome of scence - technology - was supposed to save time and reduce stress, but few people today feel as though they are enjoying the fruits of that promise. Technology often seems to make life more complicated, more hectic, more stressful, with time feeling every day more scarce, and everyone's nerves more frazzled.
    - the unscientific politics of science has come under the scrutiny of writers like Thomas Kuhn, in his depicting of the social processes of science and the phenomenon of paradigm shifts;
    complexity theory and quantum mechanics have highlighted the fundamental uncertainty in understanding the world;
    - private sector funding of science has given rise to suspicions that theories and discoveries are based on contributions to performance and efficiency and contributions to the bottom line as much as on truth or purpose.
    - public sector institutions are sometimes perceived as pursuing their own agendas, driven by the internal interests of the institutions themselves, independently of the genuine public purpose.
    - even scientists have largely abandoned the goal of penetrating truth or finding the answer, in favor of the pursuit and promotion of the perspective of their own particular sub-topic.
    - scientists themselves are sometimes perceived as interested in putting out work which will generate more research funding and add to their own power and prestige within the academic "market-place".
    - science has splintered off into a mass of specialized sub-topics, each with its own language, pre-occupations, priorities, agendas, and politics, and each seemingly disinterested in the work going on in other sub-topics. Some funding sources such as foundations encourage inter-disciplinary research, but the overall dynamic is that of knowledge silos.
    - the overall result of this mass of fragmented, and only partially-compatible, activity on separate sub-topics is not necessarily enlightenment and the betterment of the human race, but often noise and a degraded quality of life for all.
    - an underlying issue is that many of the elements excluded by definition from the purview of science, because not directly observable, turn out to be some of the things that make life most worth living. It is painful to think of the coming millennium being based on such a stunted vision of human life.




    References:
    See Stephen Denning, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations. Boston, London, Butterworth Heinemann, October 2000, chapters 7, 12.

    Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, (1960)

    Jean-François Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, 1979.

    Glen Ward, Postmodernism, London, Hodder & Stoughton, (1997)
    Last edited by zhao; 20-04-2007 at 01:09 AM.

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    also this is pretty interesting as a side note (not a part of the main critique):

    13 things that do not make sense

    17 April 2007
    NewScientist.com

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    This looks like a promising thread - I'm busy today but might have a crack at a decent reply this evening.

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    Where to start?
    Science is a methodology, it is not a program with aims

    - science is progressive, moving towards a state of complete knowledge;
    - science is unified, with many different areas, but all sharing the same goal;
    - science is universal, working for the good of all of us, and
    - science aims at total truth that will benefit all of human life.

    is all nonsense. I think the term is "strawman" - science claims none of this.

    Science is a method of creating knowledge.
    No knowledge is absolute, you can only prove something wrong and you can never prove something right. Science doesn't claim to arrive at absolute truth. It claims to offer better and better approximations of truth over time.
    Science does not pretend to be beyond narrative, science IS a narrative... as more experiments are done, more knowledge is created, better approximations of truth are discovered. The stuff from Lyotard in your post seems like wilful misunderstanding of what science is, but perhaps is it just honest misuderstanding.

    All the stuff in red at the bottom has nothing to do with science. Saying science is bad because some scientists invented bombs is nonsense. Knowledge and science are neither good nor bad. There is a moral judgement to be made about whether the bombs should have been made and used but not about whether it is right or wrong to try and understand physics. In my opinion it was worth learning how to make things out of metal even though some people made weapons. All actions and discoveries can lead to negative possibilities but that is not a reason to suppress everything.

    In general I think science is being confused with something else here. It's worth remembering that just because someone works in a university and wears a white coat, it doesn't mean all his/her actions are about science.
    The problems with funding of science, use of science to benefit an elite etc etc are all down to people being people, not down to science being evil.
    And Thomas Kuhn's theories about paradigm change are a load of nonsense.

    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+

    The philosophical reasons for why it is worth relying on knowledge discovered in a scientific manner are pretty long but you could do worse than go and read some Popper.
    Conjectures & Refutations
    The Myth Of The Framework

    or if that's too long for you, try skimming chapters 3 & 7 of David Deutsch's "The Fabric Of Reality" which is generally pretty freaky but there are nice explanations in these chapters.

    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+
    as for 13 things that don't make sense.

    1. the placebo effect - in what way does this prove or disprove anything about science? it shows that the human mind and body are not fully understood and that we have ways of controlling our own pain.

    2 & 3 - so we don't know everything there is to know yet.... so what? in the future perhaps answers to these problems will be found.

    4 - homeopathy
    i quote from the article:
    " it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. "
    and
    " If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry. :
    note the IF.

    5 - dark matter
    once again, something we don't know the answer to yet. doesn't mean that science is useless. the more we know, the more questions we will have. if we didn't do science we wouldn't know the dark matter was a problem. would that make us smarter?
    another quote:
    "If I could have my pick, I would like to learn that Newton's laws must be modified in order to correctly describe gravitational interactions at large distances,"
    I don't know who this guy is but Newton's laws describing gravitation were pretty heavily modified by a chap called Einstein about 90 years ago.

    I got bored after that....... :-/


    The whole anti-science thing seems to just boil down to people not understanding what science is and throwing the baby out with the bathwater because they don't like aspects of technological society, no?

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    The whole anti-science thing seems to just boil down to people not understanding what science is and throwing the baby out with the bathwater because they don't like aspects of technological society, no?
    Yup

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    science claims none of this.
    to clarify, i do think Lyotard and this article are dealing with Science in the wider sense, as an ideology, as a "master narrative", in it's implications, effects on society, as well as methodology. the "age of reason", an increased priviledging of rationality and simultaneous repression of the irrational, can certainly be construed as a product of patriarchal subjectivity. and Science as such, as not just a "way of doing things", but an ideology which shaped human reality for the past several hundred years, directly or indirectly, certainly does make those 4 claims.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    All the stuff in red at the bottom has nothing to do with science.

    ... (it is) down to people being people, not down to science being evil.
    you seem to have an idea of science being an absolutely neutral, objective sphere entirely divorced from, outside of, and untainted by human subjectivity.
    Last edited by zhao; 20-04-2007 at 06:25 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    The whole anti-science thing seems to just boil down to people not understanding what science is and throwing the baby out with the bathwater because they don't like aspects of technological society, no?
    nope.

    i personally have massive respect for science. but as a human endeavor, especially as a philosophy and story, it is not beyond criticism (outside of its own revision process).

    what i am interested in is a critique which deals with the narrative which science has helped construct, which in the past few hundred years have tinted our lenses, put ideas into our heads, and influenced human behavior on the deepest levels.

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    Vimothy and Edward, the knee-jerk reaction is to be expected in this day and age (still dominated by these ideologies), but can we not just stop for a second, try to resist the petty "us vs. them" level of argument, and see that the critique has many valid points.

    and indeed, take a closer look at the ground on which we stand, which may not be as solid as we like to think.

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    OK, if you want to set up science as being what you say it is, and not what it is, that's up to you.
    It's hard to argue against you if you redefine terms to suit your own purpose.

    If you want to have a discussion about the merits and demerits of the way the name of science is used as a reason/excuse for various forms of bad behaviour etc then I'm down, Im with you all the way.... but calling those bad things "science" is like looking at this week's murders in a university and saying that's an example of why education is bad.

    Sorry for the tasteless example but you get my drift.
    I am offended by the use of the word "science" in this case if what you are actually talking about is something else that has grown up around people involved with or claiming to be involved with science.


    you seem to have an idea of science being an absolutely neutral, objective sphere entirely divorced from, outside of, and untainted by human subjectivity
    It depends what you mean by subjectivity. We only have our subjective perceptions of the world around us to use to try and create knowledge / draw conclusions about what is out there. Science is done by humans. We have no access to absolute truth, only to "shadows on a cave wall" as Plato put it. But science is a method allowing us to move towards truth despite this limitation.
    If by subjectivity you mean prejudice, this has no place in science. Anyone claiming to do science with a prior agenda of what they want to show to be true is not doing science, they are producing propaganda.

    Better science education would make this clearer to people and we could lose the bullshit "sciencey bit" from shampoo ads, the rubbish claims made for the healthiness of food, studies showing women are this and men are that etc etc.


    Please go and read Popper or Deutsch. I think the David Deutsch book would be right up your street actually, it's quite anti the establishment and very in favour of taking seriously our best scientific and philosophical theories. Also there's stuff about parallel universes which is always exciting :-)

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    i personally have massive respect for science. but as a human endeavor, especially as a philosophy and story, it is not beyond criticism (outside of its own revision process).
    Science is not a philosophy. There are philosophical arguments as to why scientific reasoning is valid and of course they are not beyond criticism, but it is the best thing we've got for creating knowledge, without doubt.

    what i am interested in is a critique which deals with the narrative which science has helped construct, which in the past few hundred years have tinted our lenses, put ideas into our heads, and influenced human behavior on the deepest levels.
    OK, I've got no problem with that.... please tell me more about what you mean, what narrative, what ideas and what influences?
    Sincerely!

    the knee-jerk reaction is to be expected in this day and age (still dominated by these ideologies), but can we not just stop for a second, try to resist the petty "us vs. them" level of argument, and see that the critique has many valid points.
    I am not having a petty argument. I want you to be specific in what you are attacking, and then I will probably be on your side all the way. You are here on dissensus all the time talking about music and stuff, in my book you are "US"..... all the way!


    and indeed, take a closer look at the ground on which we stand, which may not be as solid as we like to think.
    Of course it is not solid.
    The Popperian idea is that we take our best theories and treat them as if they were true, and that it is valid to do this until they are replaced by better theories.
    This includes theories about theories, ie not just scientific theories but the theory that science is a valid method for getting better theories.
    Like I said, nothing can be positively proved, only negatives can be shown. But Popper's ideas of where we can get knowledge from are more solid than any other ideas I have seen.

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    thanks for thoughtful replies, edward. i suspect that the heart of our differences is a matter of defnition, as is sometimes the case...

    a buddy at work asked me "so what is your alternative if science is so bad?"

    overlooking the simplicity of such a question (as I am not "against science" per se, but only interested in a critique of it as a narrative, and the culture this narrative has helped build), i feel that it is valid.

    cliches aside, i think it possible to envision a more "holistic" discipline which does away with the binary opositions between science and spirituality, between reason and intuition. perhaps a way of knowledge which swings the penduluum back toward the center, away from the masculine priviledging and over-dependence of logic...

    what this specifically means I'm not entirely sure... i am not equipped to describe this more than this very vague and superficial level at the moment... sorry

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    here is another good article which summarizes many, what appears to be crucial essays on the subject:

    On The Idea of Continental and Postmodern Perspectives in the Philosophy of Science

    Babette E. Babich, Debra B. Bergoffen, and Simon V. Glynn

    Introduction

    Hermeneutic, phenomenological, genealogical and postmodern critiques of science may be conceived as a radicalization of those contemporary analyses of science which take their point of departure from the fundamental principle of complementarity and recognize that science can never be a mirror of nature; that there are no neutral observers; that all experiments are theory-laden; that there are no simple facts. These perspectives sensitize us to the historical, political, social, and cultural dimensions of science. They force us to revisit the epistemological claims of science and insist that we ask whether and to what extent the idea of scientific privilege can be sustained.

    As post-metaphysical, the hermeneutic core of postmodernism sets itself the task of interpreting discourses and narratives. When the discourse is modern science, postmodern and continental style philosophy poses such questions as: what is the source of the power of this discourse? what is the meaning of the world provided by this discourse? what are the moral and political implications of this discourse? Given its focus on interpretation and rhetoric and its rejection of the modern distinction between the rational and the irrational, postmodernism treats the sciences as embedded in, related to, and - running up against the modern ideal of clarity and distinctness - as ineluctably contaminated by other cultural languages and practices. While some might say that this perspective negates the possibility of science, others insist that such a postmodern view allows us to understand crucial discourse and practice relationships, that a specifically continental and postmodern perspective gives us a better understanding of the hows, whats, and whys of science.

    With this understanding, the modern idea of truth as reflective of nature gives way to postmodern (Nietzschean) questions of interpretation, valuation, and perspectivalism. The modern idea that the conflict of interpretations can be mediated or resolved in such a way as to provide a single coherent theory which corresponds to the way things are, gives way to the thought of an infinitely interpretable reality where diverse, divergent, complementary, contradictory, and incommensurable interpretations contest each other without, however, canceling each other out. That the traditional idea of science cannot hold in these circumstances is clear. What we explore here is the extent to which these circumstances preclude the idea of science per se. Toward this end, the following essays review the relationship between postmodernism and traditional and continental philosophies of science by examining scientific methods and disciplines, the histories of the sciences, the place of science within the modern world, the value accorded to science and the epistemology of the scientific project.

    The Risks of Postmodern, Continental Approaches to the Philosophy of Science

    To juxtapose postmodern and continental philosophical thought with the routinely analytic (and roundly modern) discipline of the philosophy of science is a chancy thing. Continental style philosophy is far from recognized as a viable approach to the philosophy of science(1) and the flip contentiousness seemingly constitutive of postmodern thought is, if anything, even less appropriate for the philosophy of science.>(2)

    Yet it is not true that there has never been any invocation of postmodernism and its categories within traditional (read: analytic) approaches to the philosophy of science. Stephen Toulmin, one of the foremost "forecasters" of the philosophy of science, was one of the first to write on "postmodern" science and philosophy (Toulmin, 1985) and his recent Cosmopolis (Toulmin,1990) offers a gentle version of postmodern critique as it poses (and proposes an answer to) the question of the "Hidden Agenda of Modernity."(3)

    Toulmin's perspective is sagely optimistic where he offers an assessment of the current (so-called postmodern) circumstance of modernity. This optimism is for the most part mirrored in the present collection. For the present authors, the postmodern condition represents not so much an established paradigmatic reversal of the modern, its difference from the plainly modern signified for example by appropriate double-coding, playfulness, pluralism, etc., as a condition of modernity as it is still in need of clarification and above all as a condition calling for recognition. Thus the postmodern condition is understood as a project proposed for reflection (or "thought") concerning just where it is that contemporary thinkers find themselves, to use Toulmin's words, with respect to "practical philosophy, multidisciplinary sciences, and transnational or subnational institutions." As such a reflective orientation, the postmodern prospect is inherently, perhaps necessarily ambivalent. For Toulmin, this ambivalence reflects two contrasting dispositions proposed as alternate responses to the contemporary condition: imagination and nostalgia. Charged by imagination, we may welcome the postmodern prospect as one "that offers new possibilities, but demands novel ideas and more adaptive institutions; and we may see this transition as a reason for hope." Or else, as Toulmin's alternative would have it, we are remanded to the fearful nostalgia of passivity and impotence, turning "our backs on the promises of the new period, in trepidation, hoping that the modes of life and thought typical of the age of stability and nationhood may survive at least for our own lifetimes." (Toulmin, 1990, 203)

    Rather than representing a premodern or romantic reactionary spirit, as Jürgen Habermas and other critics of postmodern notions argue, the essays to follow do look hopefully forward. Yet it must be with both hope and trepidation (a quintessentially postmodern combination) that what follows is an ironicised critique of the prototypically modern project of the philosophical understanding as well as of the professional practice of science. Such critiques, such skepticism and irony, are inevitable. For while a latent nostalgia is not the watchword of this collection, as Freud, Nietzsche, and recent world events remind us, hope is not without anxiety (where whatever first calls for hope is sparked and defined by the threat of dis- and misappointments). Even where hope is justified, transitions never go smoothly. In this dissonance, a continuing shock to the seamlessly modern progress-ideal, the postmodern condition ultimately calls for nothing less elusive than Nietzschean "light feet."(4)

    The Essays: Structure and Overview

    This collection is formally postmodern in three respects. There is no one definition of either science or the postmodern; no single answer to the question of the relationship between science, the philosophy of science, and postmodernism. The modern rationalistic axiom that postmodernism, science, and philosophy of science are fundamentally incompatible is set aside. The issue of the association of postmodern critique and the philosophy of science is framed as a possibility, not eliminated in advance.

    The constellation and composition of the present collection raises the question of boundaries - once again in object fashion. In asking about the prospect of a postmodern philosophy of science, these essays seek to explore the extent to which a critical (philosophical) perspective not originating in the sciences but rather in the cultural spheres of art and the humanities can be meaningfully applied to the theoretical and practical sciences. Further, consistent with the spirit of postmodernism, the configuration of this collection evokes and underlines suspicions concerning its own project. If it is the case that the boundaries between the humanities and the natural and social sciences are quasi arbitrary marks of power, might it also be the case that the move to elude and collapse these boundaries marks another power play? Is it a power play of philosophy which without directly empowering philosophy as a bastion of truth moves to regain philosophy's erstwhile position as queen of the sciences by dismantling those domains of knowledge and power which have succeeded in overshadowing it? If this last question is not the immediate subject of this volume it remains at the margin - important for postmodern thinking where the margin counts as much as anything at the center.

    Whether or not we agree to call it postmodern, we can agree that we are living in a multi-national, capitalist, nuclear world society conditioned throughout by science and technology. This imperative condition of late, post, or third-stage modernity requires our attention, however we define ourselves theoretically. For modernists cannot ignore the changed and changing circumstances of enlightenment rationality or the scientific project. And postmodernists cannot ignore the question of science and the ways it is being (and might be) practiced in a postmodern world.
    Last edited by zhao; 20-04-2007 at 09:04 PM.

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    The first section, Postmodern Continental: Propædeutic and Parody, explores the relationship between postmodernism and the philosophy of science together with a provocative or polemical critique of analytic styles in philosophy to outline some of the disputed issues between postmodern, continental and modern, analytic philosophies of science.

    A defender of the postmodernist position, Raphael Sassower argues that philosophers of science and postmodernists are often unaware of one another. Arguing that this ignorance should be remedied, Sassower offers to introduce them to each other and suggests that their awareness of each other would produce a more radical critique of science than that offered by such philosophers of science as Popper, Feyerabend, Kuhn, or Polanyi, as well as a more relevant critique of the contemporary situation than that of the postmodernists grounded in literature, architecture, or aesthetics. Distinguishing the postmodern from the pseudo-liberal critique of science, Sassower sees the work of Donna Haraway as an important link between the postmodern and feminist critiques of science and as countering the charge that postmodernism is relativist and irresponsible.

    Babette E. Babich takes polemical issue with the traditional definition of the philosophy of science as such, suggesting that a genuine philosophy of science should critique rather than precommit itself to accepting and adopting science's epistemic assumptions and methods, as is the received practice and ideal of analytic style philosophy of science. Using direct (argument) as well as indirect (parodic) means, Babich challenges the unilateral conviction and coherence of the analytic style in the philosophy of science. Only by drawing from a broad range of alternative perspectives, especially those deriving from the continental tradition and, indeed, ranging beyond the assumptions of the postmodern perspective, is a critique and understanding of many of the otherwise taken for granted claims, methods, and thetic presuppositions of science possible. Only such an approach can be accounted an authentic philosophy of science.

    The next section, On Nature, Science, and the Theory of the Human Sciences, specifically addresses intersections between hermeneutics and phenomenology and the philosophy of the natural and human sciences. These essays articulate the hermeneutic, historical, and social dimensions of the natural sciences, analyze the role of metaphor and analogy in the history and practice of science, and suggest that a postmodern perspective would resolve many of the so called paradoxes of contemporary science, to bridge the gap between traditionally styled or analytic essays in the philosophy of science and the broadly continental project of the present collection.

    Patrick A. Heelan's challenging conception of an "anti-epistemology" argues that the quantum theory needs to be given what he names an ontological rather than an epistemological interpretation. An epistemological interpretation is one related to cognitive content while an ontological interpretation is relative to the activity of representing the cognitive content. These theories describe phenomena as revealed through socio-historical processes of empirical inquiry by local communities of expert witnesses rather than as objective realities. Such theories imply a role in the scientific account for two non-classical freedoms, i.e., for social factors and for history. The ontological viewpoint here proposed is inspired by traditions as old as Aristotle and as new as Heidegger and has the further postmodern virtue of using quantum theory to elaborate an interpretive account of objectivity applicable to the social as well as the physical sciences.

    Robert P. Crease explores the analogy between the conceptual prestructuring or interpretation of experience, and the scripting or scoring of a theatrical or musical performance, to further suggest the affinity of nature and culture. Like the symbols on a musical score, which have a relationship both to the notes that are played, and to the other symbols (notes) scored, scientific theories relate both to the world and to each other. The former relationship, Crease suggests, is the focus of the experimentalist, describing the "performances" of the facts, while the latter is the focus of the theoretician, who is concerned with consistency between theories. Moreover, just as we cannot simultaneously observe every aspect or element of an historically and socio-culturally located performance, so scientific performances or experiments are similarly located and presented perspectivally.

    Simon V. Glynn traces the route from the phenomenological reduction, via Heidegger's ontological hermeneutics to the deconstruction of dualistic epistemologies and the concomitant demise of correspondence theories of truth and veridicality. He finds a parallel route, from the reduction of supposedly experience-independent, intrinsic identities of objects, to empirical properties which vary with context, and which may therefore be deconstructed into systems of extrinsic or structural relations. This, Glynn points out, amounts to the demise of absolute, non-relational, identity. Showing how the application of such a postmodern epistemology to Einstein's Relativity Theory, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, Quantum Field Theory, and Niels Bohr's theory of Complementarity, dissolves many of the paradoxes associated therewith, Glynn suggests its further application to more recent paradoxes in physics.

    Expanding on the conceptual underpinnings of observation, Daniel Rothbart examines how analogical models are pivotal to the observation of phenomena. As is clear from the practice of conceiving electricity as analogous to a fluid, or referring to the information "processing" capacities of the mind, or to light waves, analogies enable science to render comprehensible the ostensibly incoherent patterns of nature. So when an experimenter "reads" tracks in a cloud chamber as the passage of small particles, such a reading depends upon the analogical projection of patterns from familiar symmetries. Rothbart concludes that the human intervention that characterizes every level of scientific access to nature's secrets includes the creative discovery of powerful analogies in nature.

    Charles Harvey argues that the reductionistic meta-narrative ideals of totalization inveterate to both the natural and the human sciences are conceptually feasible and performatively demonstrative. Nevertheless, due to the sense-parameters distinguishing "the natural" from "the human," the two types of sciences can never be semantically conjoined. Yet, Harvey also argues, in a postmodern world, we are best off letting the sciences methodologically totalize, while teaching ourselves a phenomenological calm about life-wordly sense-gambits, a learning project which might be balanced with an existential agility about what we count as real, and when we do so.

    The ultimate section, On Application: Praxis and Critique, presses this last postmodern challenge to the modern demarcations used to distinguish the natural and social sciences from each other as well as from other interpretive strategies. The authors question the role of metaphor in science and ask about the relationship between science and its environs. Specifically attending to controversial issues, such as sexism, racism, AIDS, and, most radically, the connection between science and Eros/Thanatos, these essays shift the focus from the natural or physical sciences to the social and human sciences.

    Debra B. Bergoffen draws our attention to the ambiguity of the body of knowledge metaphor. Though usually understood with reference to the object of scientific discourse (the mysterious feminine body that must be tortured to reveal her secrets) it can also refer to the knowledge produced by science. Influenced by Nietzsche and Lacan, Bergoffen asks: How shall we understand science's promise to provide us with a reliable body of knowledge? Pursuing this question allows her to decipher our understandings of the object and project of science and to challenge the demand for a unified body of knowledge. Attending to what Lacan has taught us about the powers of the imaginary, Bergoffen alerts us to the Nietzschean possibilities of a "Gay Science," - a science that recognizes the needs for coherence, consistency, and unity as it celebrates the heterogeneity of the given and pursues the fluidity of the lived body.

    Taking up the question of the relation between scientific knowledge and power, Chip Colwell focuses on Foucault's analysis of the relation between the medical narrative and economic, social, and political institutions. Public support for the sick lead to their removal from home into hospitals or clinics where the patient could more readily be objectified as the site of symptoms and where previously localized medical discourses became the grand narrative of medicine. The clinician's control over the body of the diseased meant that Death, traditionally the point at which the secrets of the disease were irrevocably lost, became, via autopsy, the point of revelation. Like other forms of knowledge, medical knowledge is mediated by economic, political, and social institutions, and thus by the relations of power, which it therefore reflects, and to which in turn it contributes. Colwell suggests that the postmodern doctor would recognize the grand medical narrative in all its importance and in its objectifying tendencies as only one among a number of possible discourses on disease.

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    Ladelle McWhorter explicates Foucault's notion of power as a non-reified process or event, emanating from many points, and at least as capable of generating institutions and the relations between them - and thus institutionally constituted notions of truth and knowledge for instance - as of being a reflection of them. Attempting to demonstrate that Foucault's analysis may be extended beyond the social sciences to the natural sciences, she turns to biology as a case in point. Arguing that the account given by biologists of the relations between species and races provided justification for slavery, taboos against interracial marriages, etc., McWhorter claims that such classifications consolidate, extend, and reflect the interests of those at the center of power.


    Following a Heideggerian reading, Felix O'Murchadha points out that our knowledge of the world implies a view of and therefore a relation to the world and that we are constituted by those very perspectives and acts of interpretation by which we come to what we name the truth. The cultural and the natural world are mediated by the same conceptual or symbolic systems and hermeneutic interpretations that constitute the human as such. In consequence, the concerns of epistemology (theoretical knowledge) and practical existence (ethics) are pragmatically united; our knowledge of the world is inherently ethical.

    Radicalizing this last point of inquiry, Neil Gascoigne asks whether we can make sense of the self-conscious, ethically responsible, subject if the subject/ object dichotomy has been deconstructed. When postmodernists, as well as some modernists, reject the noumenal or transcendental self that Kant identifies as the free center of a universal ethics, they leave us with the empirical self, as a reified ego unable to escape causal determinism, and thereby incapable of assuming ethical responsibility for its actions. Arguing that we can distinguish what is represented from how it is represented, and that such a distinction may leave room for an ethically responsible subject in spite of its misrepresentation as a reified ego, Gascoigne notes that such a solution is not without difficulties. It is for instance, sometimes claimed (Freud, Marx) that the outside observer is in a better position than the actors themselves to comprehend the true meaning and significance of their actions, a claim which in effect reinstates the absolutist perspective of a transcendental signifier or noumenal I.

    Alphonso Lingis notes that Martin Heidegger set out to bring to light the history of the specific form of the technological imperative at work in our theoretical and practical reason. But Lingis argues that Heidegger's account does not sufficiently distinguish what is specific to the diverse ordinances that command our perception, our technology, and our social fields as the lived world and body. The representations science constructs of the perceptual field, the technological field, and the social field are not continuous with one another. As an illustration of Lingis's emphasis on the ordinance of the lived body and its environmental referentiality, the dialectic tension between disembodied and embodied reification is offered in a precisely physicalistic context by Brian Pronger. In the final essay of this volume. Pronger examines the tendency to reify reflective or analytic distinctions and finds this correlative with the tendency to objectify or hypostatize the self. Pronger identifies this tendency with Thanatos which he contrasts with Eros: the erotic urge to the synthetic unity of being in the process of lived becoming. While modern science is, from Pronger's point of view, clearly in the service of Thanatos, a postmodern science would acknowledge, along with Eros, the unity and thus the essential relatedness of all elements of existence.

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    References

    Babich, B.E. (1994), "Philosophy of Science and the Politics of Style: Beyond Making Sense," New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture, Summer/Fall 1994: 30/31, pp. 99-114.

    Babich, B. E. (1993), "Continental Philosophy of Science: Mach, Duhem, and Bachelard," in Kearney, R. (ed.), Routledge History of Philosophy: Volume VIII, Routledge, London, pp. 175-221.

    Bergoffen, D. (1990), "Nietzsche's Madman: Perspectivism without Nihilism," in in Koelb, C. (ed.), Nietzsche as Postmodernist. Essays Pro and Contra, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 57-71.

    Baudrillard, J. (1992), "The Ecstasy of Communication," in Jencks, C. (ed.), The Postmodern Reader, Academy Editions, London, pp. 151-157.

    Bohm, D. (1992), "Postmodern Science and a Postmodern World," in Jencks, C. (ed.), The Postmodern Reader, Academy Editions, London, pp. 383-391. Also in Griffin, D.R. (ed.), The Reenchantment of Science: Postmodern Proposals, State University of New York Press, pp. 57-68.

    Bohm, D. (1981), Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge, London.

    Borgmann, A. (1992), Crossing the Postmodern Divide, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

    Eco, U. (1984), Postscript to The Name of the Rose, Weaver, W. (trans.), Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, New York.

    Griffin, D.R. (1988), "The Reenchantment of Science," in Griffin, (ed.), The Reenchantment of Science, State University of New York Press, New York, p. 1-56. Abridged in Jencks, The Postmodern Reader, pp. 354-72.

    Lyotard, J.-F. (1979), La Condition Postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris. (1984) Bennington, G. and Massumi, B. (trans.), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

    Toulmin, S. (1990), Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

    Toulmin, S. (1985), "Pluralism and Responsibility in Post-Modern Science," Science, Technology & Human Values, 10:28-37.

    Rosenau, P. M. (1992), Postmodernism and the Social Sciences, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

    Simpson, L. C. (1995), Technology, Time, and the Conversations of Modernity, Routledge, New York.

    Notes

    1. This is not because there are no proponents of such approaches to the philosophy of science but because these approaches go unrecognized: presumably unread and quite crucially uncited. See however the first named editor's essays, Babich (1994), (1993), and below.

    2. Postmodernism hardly enters mainline or traditional analytic style philosophy although it figures in the socio-political axis in positive reference made by such continental authors as Jean Baudrillard, Umberto Eco, and Jean-François Lyotard. Popular science authors like the more religiously minded physicists such as, for example, the late David Bohm, tend to use the term postmodern fairly freely. For further discussion of the alliance between religion and science, especially ecology, see Griffin. In philosophy of technology there is some evidence of a serious reception of the concept of the postmodern condition, particularly with regard to its multiculturalist and feminist dimensionality (see, among others, Borgmann and Simpson). In the social sciences invocations of the postmodern are common enough to be featured in titles (e.g., Rosenau: Postmodernism and the Social Sciences). It is of course telling, as a failure to which the present volume is addressed, that discussions of the postmodern, be it condition or quandary, are not featured in contemporary philosophy of science with its dominant focus on natural science.

    3. Toulmin himself, although a master of the analytic art of non-citation, names Frederick Ferré the "pioneer" of postmodernity in the natural sciences but adds "see also the final essays in Stephen Toulmin, The Return to Cosmology." Toulmin, 1990, p. 213.

    4. See on this, the first two named editors' contributions to Clayton Koelb, ed., Nietzsche as Postmodernist (Albany, SUNY 1995) in particular, Debra Bergoffen's "Nietzsche's Madman: Perspectivism Without Nihilism."

    NB: This background was borrowed from a clever page site designed by Enrico Graf (www.wolfsburg.de/~graf)

    Babette E. Babich Curriculm Vitae

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