Friday, February 05, 2010

Rod Dreher reports on a lecture by Charles Taylor: Faith, reason and paradigm shifts.

Charles Taylor is popular with Candians, liberals, and egalitarians. Isn't that sufficient reason to be suspicious of his writings? One cannot equate "the kind of revelations that come via flashes of insight and intuition" with Divine Revelation. What sort of Catholic intellectual is he? His is the sort of apologetic that tries to accomodate scientific triumphalism and yet make room for faith, but in the process puts forth a flawed understanding of human reasoning and reinforces a bad judgment about the epistemic value of scientific discourse.

Do scientists have some sort of faith before they do their own work? Yes, because it is impossible for them to start from the very beginning and not only "verify" the work that has been done in the past, but to have, from the accumulated experience of their predecessors, a cumulative grasp of the natures upon which they are experimenting. They must have working assumptions that they themselves do not know, but only believe based on the authority of those who have imparted the assumptions to them or the authority of the scientific endeavor of which they are a part. Does this make it true science? Only if one calls science whatever happens in the minds of experts and those who are working in laboratories, and is "confirmed" by their peers. But this is really just probable reasoning -- it's not really science in the strict sense as it is laid out by Aristotle.

Would "paradigm shifts" be possible if scientists were not working from presuppositions instead of true understanding?

No comments: