File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0312, message 26

Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 22:53:59 +0000
Subject: Re: BHA: scientific realism,


I believe that the implications of  the differences between us are 
clear. I also believe that I understand what Ruth means by 'Realism', 
however my attempts at making sure I  am not misrepresenting, to myself, 
either her of you makes me aim for clarification. The obvious way in 
which this difference lacks clarity to me is on the edges of the realist 
case where 'truth' has suddenly become not a singular issue but rather a 
multifacted concept...

The religious metaphor does not work for me, I am really not sure 
whether the postsecular turn towards reusing religious and theological 
terms and understandings, in this case the use of 'belief' and 'faith' 
within a religious context is something I can accept. This is not 
because I am attemtping to maintain a seperation between belief and 
faith in relation to religion, from belief and faith in a science far 
from it in fact - but because my sense of the list in general is that it 
might find it difficult to accept an argument founded the 
comparative-mythological work of Dumezil and that aspect of  
Deleuze/Guattaris work that builds on Dumezil's work. The other issue 
which causes me to pause is the tendency within the postsecular turn to 
focus almost exclusivly on out Judeo-Christian histories, which I find 
acceptable when used by militant aethists such as Badiou (for example) 
but not by those who are attempting to 'return' to a Christian moment. 
But there is little difference between  the reception and faith in 
religion and the scientific - it is precisely the case that both have 
developed an undeniable and understandably competitive relationship to 
social and economic power. What else was Planck engaged in but 
establishing that ?

(Perhaps derrida's postsecular turn has taken place because 
desconstruction simply fails to function as an attempt to re-represent, 
mis-represent science and he has to slide back into theism...)

However to be clear - it is precisely the questions that unpacks 
positions which are interesting and the assumption that an aethist and a 
theist cannot have a meaningful and mutually understandable discourse on 
'choice', to use your metaphor is wrong. (Notwithstanding Ruth's 
position statement...)


Moodey, Richard W wrote:

>Hi Steve,
>There may be a real difference in our theories of meaning.  I think what Ruth means by the phrase "scientific realism" is clear.  What you seem to be asking is (1) what does "scientific realism" mean "in itself," and (2) how consistent is what Ruth means with what the phrase means "in itself."  I put the scare quotes around "in itself," because I don't think words and phrases really do mean anything in themselves, but only as people mean things by them.
>I used the religious metaphor to try to make my point more vivid.  I think that people hold many of their basic beliefs and values "religiously."  By this I mean that these are the result of socialization and identification with significant others.  They are  neither verified (or as yet unfalsified) hypotheses, nor the logical conclusions of deductions.  They are part of what Polanyi calls the "tacit dimension," and Searle "background."  Just as those who call themselves "Catholic" have different backgrounds, so also do those who call themselves "realists."  What's wrong with letting them refer to themselves that way?  Why should an "anti-Catholic" or an "anti-realist" object to the unorthodoxy of the Catholic or the realist.
>One reason I used the Catholic analogy is because Catholicism is widely regarded as having a rather rigid belief system, defined infallibly by the pope.  Yet the Catholic Church is full of "cafeteria Catholics," who decide what they are going to swallow and what they are not.  Most of us (I am proud to be a cafeteria Catholic) have not been excommunicated, and will not be.
>I was trying to bring out the incongruity of an anti-realist setting himself up as a kind of "pope" of realism, asking Ruth how she could deny the conflation of realist ontology and the correspondence theory of truth and still call her position a realism.  It is a bit like an atheistic pro-choice advocate asking her Catholic friend how she can be pro-choic and still call herself "Catholic."
>Best regards,
>-----Original Message-----
>From: steve.devos [] 
>Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 4:08 AM
>To: bhaskar-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU
>Subject: Re: BHA: scientific realism,
>Actually it was a genunine call for clarification rather than a 
>'challenge'  as I  was unsure how for the stated argument could be 
>maintained in respect of 'scientific realism'  and I was and am 
>specifically interested in  that phrase and not in realism in general. 
>My interest is in relation to how a realism would understand 
>contemporary science and that seems a lot clearer now...
>Where did the use of the religious metaphor come from ?

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