File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1996/96-05-20.182, message 146


Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 13:49:46 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: Re: reading group


First, my apology to Mike Sinclair (not Sullivan).

Amit's question, i too believe to be a good and very important question.  
Like Colin i am not convinced by David's answer.  It seems to me that 
David is defining science as knowledge that is explanatory (about 
generative mechanisms) and then suggesting that explanaiton is the only 
type of knowledge.  However, his point may be more subtle[?].

i agree with Colin that the social production of knowledge and 
epistemological relativism seems to commit Bhaskar to other types of 
knowledge, that are not necessarily "scientific".  David points this out 
in his last paragraph which seems to be out of phase with his paragraph 
denying "other kinds of knowledge".

Most of our knowledge about the world is a type of practical knowledge; 
or knowledge we possess to get by in the world day to day, next week, or 
next year.  The Dialectic might be necessary here to explain particular 
transformtions.  But the point to be made is practical knowledge is quite 
different from discursive knowledge.  And this is quite important for 
Bhaskar's stratification of action (e.g. conscious and unconscious 
motivation; unacknowledged conditions; and unintended consequences).

Moreover, i am not sure if we should deny spiritual knowledge or 
knowledge through revelation (in else an immanent critique can deny it).

Or think of Collier's (CR 1994:28-9) "Law of Disappearing Household 
Objects"; this is a type of non-scientific knowledge.  And we accept that 
things turn up in their right place, not because we can explian "the 
strange mechanism" behind finding things in their right place, but 
because if we did not accept it; the world would be a very strange place.

Although Colin offers some nice comments about transcendental realism 
(some of which i disagee); there has not been a "definition of science" 
offered.  At this early point i would want to define science this way 
(and i think in phase with what Colin said about TR): 
	
    science (a social product) is that human activity that *intervenes* 
    with nature (and society) and attempts to discover the (often hidden)
    transfactual causal mechanisms which produce the phenomenon that
    we experience [i think this might be refined and changed as we read 
    further in RTS; and with the Diaelctic, especially in terms of the human 
    mind].

Intervention is the term that will need to be refined and explained to 
begin answering Amit's question.

Now back to the two paragraphs of David's which seem to be (but may 
not be) out of  phase.  The first says science is the only type of 
knowledge and the second that there is no specific "rules of method", 
suggests epistemological relativism, and acknoledges the soical process 
of producing knowledge.   Like Colin i agree with latter, but have some 
questions about the former.

What i think David is trying to point out is that Bhaskar does not 
necessarily think in terms of demarcation of knowledge, i.e. as being 
scientific or non-scientific.  Or still stronger there is no necessary 
(Popperian) demarcaton *criteria* that can distingish between scientific 
and non-scientific types of knowledge (which does not deny a difference).

We know that practical knowledge is somehow different from when we 
reflect on practical activity, which is also different from reflecting 
on our reflective activity.  But demarcation is not necessary.

hans d.

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