File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0009, message 54


Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 08:53:17 -0500
Subject: Re: BHA: Bhaskar and God




Gary MacLennan wrote:

>
> Well Tobin could one not say as well that he has trusted his
> experience?  If we don't trust it then where are we?

Come, Gary, you don't mean this. Experience gives us appearances --
and as Marx (Aristotle with an attitude) observed, if appearances
coincided with reality there would be no need for science. I have
several friends who battle intermittently with voices telling them
various things -- that is, they battle both *not* to hear the voices
(have the experience) *and* to *not* believe that experience.
(I am not saying religious experience is an illusion caused by
a brain disorder -- I am saying that religious experience, like
experience caused by a brain disorder, or any other experience,
is evidence of nothing until it has been subjected to critique. The
model for all experience considered as evidence is the illusion of
the astronomer in Johnson's *Rasselas*.

Years ago I came across an interesting essay in a freshman comp
anthology. I forget the author or most of the details of the essay,
but the author was a very distinguished biiologist, and I remember
in general one important anecdote. Many years before he had
written up an experiment which contradicted received opinion on
a certain matter in biology. (I forget all the details) The article was
refused. Over a decade later new evidence established that he
had been correct, and received opinion was changed. His comment:
the editor was perfectly correct in refusing the article -- that in fact
he had been mistaken in even submitting it. There was simply no
useful framework within which the evidence of his article could
have been dealt with -- and the publication *at that time* of a
true article would *not* have furthered the discovery of that truth
but been a barrier to its discovery.

We work within a given framework -- and it is almost always wrong
to  trust experience (or even scientific experiment) which conflicts
with that framework. Such experiences/experiments should be
more or less pigeon-holed until a framework which makes sense
of them *and* of the current framework can be tentatively
proposed. Of course we must distrust our experience. It is utterly
destructive of thought to trust experience in the first instance.

Carrol

> Of course one could
> question the basis of the novella.  The detail he got seemingly from Mike
> Robinson.
>
> However we need to acknowledge that this is a novella - a fictional form.
> That perhaps would in itself suggest to me a slight distancing from total
> naive belief in what he has been told.
>
> warm regards
>
> Gary
>
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