Science vs. Humanities

Epistemologist
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Science vs. Humanities

I have been having an interesting discussion with some nice forum members. I enjoyed it. Thank you. A stance I held in that discussion is that there are aspects of the human experience that are ineffable to science.

 

Three years ago, I studied a year-long module on the humanities at university. I was taught that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings, and knowledge, that are not accessible through the sciences. In other words, academics who specialize in the humanities, from what I have learned, maintain that the humanities study and convey aspects of the human experience that cannot be and/or are not studied or conveyed by the sciences.

 

By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

 

By the humanities I mean music, poetry and other creative writing, drama, painting, sculpture, law, history, linguistics etc.

 

I have some questions about this.

 

Is it irrational to conclude that the humanities study and express truths, meanings, and knowledge, which cannot be and/or are not studied or expressed by the sciences?

 

A related question is, do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience (truths, meanings and knowledge) that are ineffable to the sciences, but not ineffable to the humanities? In other words, are there aspects of the human experience that can be known through the humanities, but not known through the sciences?

 

Do the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not reducible to scientific naturalism?

 

Since specialists in the humanities maintain that the humanities encompass aspects of the human experience that are not or cannot be encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that the humanities are in opposition to scientific naturalism?

 

If a person concludes that the humanities do indeed encompass truths, meanings, and knowledge, that cannot be or are not encompassed by the sciences, does that mean that person is not a scientific naturalist?

 

There seem to be many scientific naturalists in this forum, and I would be most interested in your thoughts on this. I am not going to debate you. I just want to know, from your perspective, whether it is irrational to conclude that the humanities study and convey truths, meanings and knowledge that cannot be and/or are not studied and/or conveyed by the sciences.

 

Although I am an atheist, happy Easter! Smiling

 

 


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Epistemologist wrote:And

Epistemologist wrote:

And you’ve made a fundamental contradiction right there.

 

BobSpence1 said: “It (philosophies under the umbrella pf metaphysical idealism e.g. phenomenology, phenomenalism and existentialism – which hold the view that all things are only ideas in the mind) conflicts with any sane view of reality.”

 

BobSpence1 said: “So you still don't 'get it'. No-one is conflating the work with a description of it, scientific or otherwise. . . . There is no warrant for assuming with certainty that any experience actually apprehends directly anything but an internal representation of reality.”

 

You implied that it is insane for the humanities to hold the perspective that the brain and the universe are nothing more than ideas in the mind. Then you implied that we only know the world as representation.

That’s a big, screaming, I’ve just pulled my pants down and don’t realize it, contradiction i.e. if we only know the world as representation, then the world is only representation. Representations only exist in the mind. Therefore the world only exists in the mind. There you go, you share the same insanity as the phenomenologists and existentialists. Smiling 

No it isn't.

The fact that we only have access, in a direct sense, to a mental representation of the world ( that our brain constructs from sensory data ) does NOT mean there is nothing real, and independent of our consciousness, "out there",  that that representation is based on. That is the screamingly illogical conclusion you have made a sanity-defying leap to.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Jormungander
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Epistemologist wrote: And

Epistemologist wrote:

And you won’t. A key difference between the natural sciences and humanities is that natural science is dogmatic, and the humanities are not. The humanities are open minded. In the humanities there are many alternative philosophical perspectives, each of which has a different definition of truth.

 

Please don't tell me that your definition of dogma is something along the lines of "accepts that there is an objective truth that people can discover."

Can you elaborate as to why you think that natural science is dogmatic? Is it because of the standards of evidence and rejection of the ideas that the truth is relative or some sort of social construct?

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

soandso wrote:
Whatthedeuce said: “If the humanities do not convey truths which would be recognized as truths by the standards of the natural sciences, then where is the point of conflict? Are you now agreeing that the humanities do not conflict with the natural sciences?”

 

I am going to forget about beauty and aesthetics, as that is a deviation from the topic.

 

We need to agree on definitions of humanities and natural science. I am not sure how it works elsewhere, but in Britain, universities differentiate between arts and sciences by awarding a BA (Bachelor of Arts) for an arts degree, and a Bsc (Bachelor of science) for a science degree. In Britain, linguistics, law, and philosophy, are awarded the degrees of BA (Bachelor of Arts), which renders them humanities subjects.

 

This also corresponds with what is written in Wikipedia. Wikipedia lists the follow subjects as Humanities: ancient and modern languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts (including music). Additional subjects sometimes included in the humanities are technology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics, although these are often regarded as social sciences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities

 

It lists the following subjects as natural sciences: Astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_science

 

It lists the following subjects as social sciences: Anthropology, economics, education, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences

 

It lists the following subjects as formal sciences: Logic, mathematics, systems theory, computer science, information theory, decision theory, statistics, linguistics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_science

 

When people use the word ‘science’, they usually imply ‘natural science’ e.g. If someone tells you that they are a scientist, you would not conclude that they are a linguist, a lawyer, or a philosopher for example.

 

To redefine the question better, do the humanities subjects listed above lead to knowledge, truth, and meanings, that the natural sciences do not? Obviously they do. I don’t need to defend that claim, simply because if they did not lead to knowledge different to that of the natural sciences, then universities would not teach them.

 

Do the humanities’ truth and knowledge claims conflict with those of the natural sciences? Of course they do. It’s blatantly obvious. Naturalism is only one of many different perspectives in philosophy and the other humanities, but in natural science, naturalism is the only perspective.

 

Do the truth and knowledge claims of the social sciences conflict with those of the natural sciences? Yes, they certainly do. Social constructionism is a truth and knowledge claim in the social sciences, which directly contradicts the naturalism of the natural sciences.

 

Do the truth and knowledge claims of the formal sciences conflict with those of the natural sciences? Yes. Primarily, the formal sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can be attained through rationalism. In contrast, the natural sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can ultimately only be attained through empiricism.

 

The natural sciences also incorporate the philosophy of naturalism. Whereas, the humanities, social sciences, and formal sciences, do not. That is a main point of conflict between the humanities and natural sciences.

 

I am not going to lie, and say there is no conflict between the truth and knowledge claims of the humanities, in contrast to the natural sciences, just to satisfy the mob rule of ‘The Rational Response Squad’. Smiling

 

 


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Soandso

 

soandso wrote:
mellestad said: “And can you please use proper quotes?  Your responses are very difficult to read.  Just type: [ quote=soandso] whatsoandsosaid [ /quote]”

 

Thank you soandso. Smiling


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

BobSpence1 wrote:
No it isn't. . . . The fact that we only have access, in a direct sense, to a mental representation of the world ( that our brain constructs from sensory data ) does NOT mean there is nothing real, and independent of our consciousness, "out there",  that that representation is based on. That is the screamingly illogical conclusion you have made a sanity-defying leap to.”

 

 

In the humanities it is controversial whether the brain and the universe is only a representation in the mind, or whether the universe actually exists externally to the mind. Part of this controversy is ‘the mind-body problem’. I know however that it is not controversial in the natural sciences. Natural science incorporates the doctrine of naturalism, which is the complete rejection of idealistic philosophical perspectives.

 


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

Jormungander wrote:
“Please don't tell me that your definition of dogma is something along the lines of "accepts that there is an objective truth that people can discover." . . . Can you elaborate as to why you think that natural science is dogmatic? Is it because of the standards of evidence and rejection of the ideas that the truth is relative or some sort of social construct?”

 

The humanities are less dogmatic than the natural sciences in that that they hold naturalism as one of several different perspectives. However, in the natural sciences, naturalism is the only philosophical perspective. I do not dispute the scientific method of natural science, and I do not contend that the scientific method is dogmatic.


Kapkao
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I have nothing to contribute

I have nothing to contribute to the discourse on "humanities", EXCEPT a soundbite from someone who originally coined the term "soundbite"

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's. -Samuel Clemens, pen name Mark Twain

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


Whatthedeuce
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Epistemologist wrote:  We

Epistemologist wrote:

 

We need to agree on definitions of humanities and natural science. I am not sure how it works elsewhere, but in Britain, universities differentiate between arts and sciences by awarding a BA (Bachelor of Arts) for an arts degree, and a Bsc (Bachelor of science) for a science degree. In Britain, linguistics, law, and philosophy, are awarded the degrees of BA (Bachelor of Arts), which renders them humanities subjects.

 

This also corresponds with what is written in Wikipedia. Wikipedia lists the follow subjects as Humanities: ancient and modern languages, literature, law, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts (including music). Additional subjects sometimes included in the humanities are technology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics, although these are often regarded as social sciences. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities

 

It lists the following subjects as natural sciences: Astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_science

 

It lists the following subjects as social sciences: Anthropology, economics, education, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences

 

It lists the following subjects as formal sciences: Logic, mathematics, systems theory, computer science, information theory, decision theory, statistics, linguistics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_science

 

When people use the word ‘science’, they usually imply ‘natural science’ e.g. If someone tells you that they are a scientist, you would not conclude that they are a linguist, a lawyer, or a philosopher for example.

 

These definitions are fine with me

Epistemologist wrote:

To redefine the question better, do the humanities subjects listed above lead to knowledge, truth, and meanings, that the natural sciences do not? Obviously they do. I don’t need to defend that claim, simply because if they did not lead to knowledge different to that of the natural sciences, then universities would not teach them.

 

The fact that universities teach them is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the relevant subjects lead to knowledge truth and meanings. There are other ways of justifying the teaching of a course at a university. For example, a university may teach music because people derive entertainment from listening to music. Many students would like to become musicians or composers after their studies. This makes teaching music practically useful even if the subject of music does not lead to knowledge truth or meanings that the natural social and formal sciences cannot access.

Since leading to knowledge, truth and meanings is not the only way to justify teaching a course at a university, you still do need to defend the claim that the humanities subjects do lead to knowledge, truth, and meanings which are inaccesible to the natural sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

Do the humanities’ truth and knowledge claims conflict with those of the natural sciences? Of course they do. It’s blatantly obvious. Naturalism is only one of many different perspectives in philosophy and the other humanities, but in natural science, naturalism is the only perspective.

 

You personally may find this blatantly obvious; however, I do not. If it were blatantly obvious, there would be many blatantly obvious examples of instances in which the humanities claims conflict with the natural sciences claims. Nevertheless, I am unaware of any such example.

The fact that philosophy uses philosophical perspectives that the natural sciences do not use is not necessarily a point of conflict. The reason why it is not a point of conflict is because they only use the different perspectives when attempting to answer fundamentally different types of questions. Because they do not apply the different philosophical perspectives to the same areas that the natural sciences cover, they never create any conflicts with the natural sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

Do the truth and knowledge claims of the social sciences conflict with those of the natural sciences? Yes, they certainly do. Social constructionism is a truth and knowledge claim in the social sciences, which directly contradicts the naturalism of the natural sciences.

 

social constructionism does not contradict naturalism

Epistemologist wrote:

Do the truth and knowledge claims of the formal sciences conflict with those of the natural sciences? Yes. Primarily, the formal sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can be attained through rationalism. In contrast, the natural sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can ultimately only be attained through empiricism.

 

Once again, if they conflict with each other, there should be examples of instances in which they contradict each other. I have never heard of any such contradiction. I would be interested in hearing exactly how rationalism contradicts naturalism because I have never heard anyone claim that they are in conflict with each other.

 

Epistemologist wrote:

The natural sciences also incorporate the philosophy of naturalism. Whereas, the humanities, social sciences, and formal sciences, do not. That is a main point of conflict between the humanities and natural sciences.

 

this is not a point of conflict because it does not give rise to any conflicting conclusions. It does not give rise to conflicting conclusions because conflicting perspectives are never applied simultaneously.

Epistemologist wrote:

I am not going to lie, and say there is no conflict between the truth and knowledge claims of the humanities, in contrast to the natural sciences, just to satisfy the mob rule of ‘The Rational Response Squad’. Smiling 

I agree that the mob rule of 'The Rational Response Squad' is not a reason to say that there is no conflict between the humanities and natural sciences. However, the fact that we  are unaware of any conflicts between the two types of sciences is a good reason to think that they don't conflict.

 

Also, I do not in any way represent 'The Rational Response Squad' I am just a random person who reads the forum and has recently decided to participate in its discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Epistemologist wrote:The

Epistemologist wrote:
The humanities are less dogmatic than the natural sciences in that that they hold naturalism as one of several different perspectives. However, in the natural sciences, naturalism is the only philosophical perspective. I do not dispute the scientific method of natural science, and I do not contend that the scientific method is dogmatic.

I'm not sure what you mean by assigning philosophical positions to fields of study. It seems like a category error. Scientists tend to be naturalists because supernatural claims are outside the scope of science, but it certainly isn't necessarily. There are scientists who are not naturalists. Science itself would only be naturalist to the extent that it deals with nature.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“The fact that philosophy uses philosophical perspectives that the natural sciences do not use is not necessarily a point of conflict. The reason why it is not a point of conflict is because they only use the different perspectives when attempting to answer fundamentally different types of questions. Because they do not apply the different philosophical perspectives to the same areas that the natural sciences cover, they never create any conflicts with the natural sciences.”

 

Yes they answer different questions, but the point of conflict is this. Natural science maintains that metaphysics is not a source of truth and knowledge. The humanities maintain that metaphysics is a source of truth and knowledge. That is an absolute contradiction, and therefore a conflict.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“social constructionism does not contradict naturalism.”

 

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that is pretty much the most ridiculous thing you have said so far in this discussion. Social constructionism maintains that there is no such thing as nature, and that nature is nothing more than a social construction. Naturalism on the other hand maintains that nature does indeed exist. So naturalism says ‘nature exists’, and social constructionism says ‘nature does not exist’. If you don’t think that is a contradiction, then you may as well say that it is possible to be atheist and theist simultaneously. I am starting to doubt whether I can take you seriously any more. Smiling

 

Here is a summary of the undeniable conflicts between the humanities and non-natural sciences on the one hand, and the natural sciences on the other hand:

 

Metaphysics (Humanities) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).  

 

Social constructionism (social science) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).  

 

Rationalism (formal science) vs. Empiricism (Natural science).  

 

I know you don’t represent ‘The Rational Response Squad’. I only emphasize that there is ‘mob rule’ in this forum because every time I highlight the conflicts between the humanities and natural science, everyone else chants ‘there is no conflict’. Smiling On different points, the subjects conflict, coexist, or complement each other. That is how for example the discipline of psychology classifies its different approaches – conflict, complementarity, and coexistence.


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Epistemologist wrote:I know

Epistemologist wrote:

I know you don’t represent ‘The Rational Response Squad’. I only emphasize that there is ‘mob rule’ in this forum because every time I highlight the conflicts between the humanities and natural science, everyone else chants ‘there is no conflict’. Smiling On different points, the subjects conflict, coexist, or complement each other. That is how for example the discipline of psychology classifies its different approaches – conflict, complementarity, and coexistence.

 

We are saying that because you're the one creating a conflict.  If "Humanities=what Epistemologist says" then sure, there is a conflict.  But many of us have studied the humanities and see no conflict.  Just because you can trot out philosophical nonsense about how some people are in love with postmodernism does not mean you get to define the entire field and the belief systems of everyone who studies the humanities.  What it means is that some people/philosophies hold views that contradict naturalism....no more, no less.  And you won't get any argument from anyone here on that point.

To move forward you would have to show actual evidence that a majority of humanities professionals are philosophical postmodernists, and I don't think you've got that data.  And honestly, I am unconvinced most hippies who call themselves postmodernists really know what they are advocating anyway because they are too busy getting high to focus on reality :P

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Epistlemologist wrote:I am

Epistlemologist wrote:

I am starting to doubt whether I can take you seriously any more.

 

And a lot of us stopped taking you seriously when you started saying that the phrase 'nature doesn't exist' has truth value to it.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

mellestad wrote:
“We are saying that because you're the one creating a conflict.  If "Humanities=what Epistemologist says" then sure, there is a conflict.  But many of us have studied the humanities and see no conflict.  Just because you can trot out philosophical nonsense about how some people are in love with postmodernism does not mean you get to define the entire field and the belief systems of everyone who studies the humanities.  What it means is that some people/philosophies hold views that contradict naturalism....no more, no less.  And you won't get any argument from anyone here on that point.

 

To move forward you would have to show actual evidence that a majority of humanities professionals are philosophical postmodernists, and I don't think you've got that data.  And honestly, I am unconvinced most hippies who call themselves postmodernists really know what they are advocating anyway because they are too busy getting high to focus on reality :P”

 

Postmodernism vs. naturalism is not the conflict I am highlighting. I do not really agree with postmodernism. The conflicts I am highlighting are metaphysics vs. naturalism, social constructionism vs. naturalism, and rationalism vs. empiricism. These are not my ideas. They are ancient conflicts between natural science, social science, formal science, and the humanities.

 

You don’t have to interpret them as conflict. You can interpret them as complementarity and coexistence too. But you can also interpret them as conflict. If you can’t interpret them as conflict, that means you don’t understand what they are.

 

If you want me to provide statistics to show that a significant proportion of humanities academics believe that metaphysics generates truth and knowledge, I cannot do that. I don’t know where to get the statistics from. There are probably not any stats for that.

 

Most (or almost all) people using this forum don’t seem to have much knowledge of philosophy.

 

And personal experience does not count as evidence in a discussion like this.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

v4ultingbassist wrote:
“ And a lot of us stopped taking you seriously when you started saying that the phrase 'nature doesn't exist' has truth value to it.”

 

That’s because you don’t understand the philosophy of social constructionism. It’s not my fault that you and other forum users have not been educated. Smiling


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Epistemologist wrote:  

Epistemologist wrote:

 

That’s because you don’t understand the philosophy of social constructionism. It’s not my fault that you and other forum users have not been educated. Smiling

 

You just said that the conflict is between those who claim 'nature exists' and those who claim 'nature does not exist.'  Social constructionism is dependent on humans, but we have scientific evidence (empirical, if you will) that at one point humans didn't exist.  So are you here to contest all that is astrophysics, evolution, archeology, and geology (to name a few) are wrong?  It appears that I am not the one lacking in education, because there are multiple fields of study in direct opposition to your argument that you seem to have overlooked.


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Epistemologist wrote:Yes

Epistemologist wrote:

Yes they answer different questions, but the point of conflict is this. Natural science maintains that metaphysics is not a source of truth and knowledge. The humanities maintain that metaphysics is a source of truth and knowledge. That is an absolute contradiction, and therefore a conflict.

 

definition of natural science as we have agreed to in this thread: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science and Physics.

Natural science makes no claims about metaphysics. The natural sciences do not address metaphysics because metaphysics is not studied by Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, or Physics.

How can the Natural sciences conflict with Humanities on the subject of metaphysics when Natural science makes no claims about metaphysics whatsoever?

edit#2: Yes, there are many different types of naturalism. However, the only type of naturalism that is relevant to the natural sciences is methodological naturalism. It appears that you see a contradiction between ontological naturalism and the humanities. However, ontological naturalism is not employed by the natural sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“social constructionism does not contradict naturalism.”

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that is pretty much the most ridiculous thing you have said so far in this discussion. Social constructionism maintains that there is no such thing as nature, and that nature is nothing more than a social construction. Naturalism on the other hand maintains that nature does indeed exist. So naturalism says ‘nature exists’, and social constructionism says ‘nature does not exist’. If you don’t think that is a contradiction, then you may as well say that it is possible to be atheist and theist simultaneously. I am starting to doubt whether I can take you seriously any more. Smiling

 

You do not know what the definition of the term social constructionism is. I will provide a few for you.

Definition #1 taken from wikipedia:

Social constructionism is a sociological theory of knowledge that considers how social phenomena develop in social contexts.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism

Definition #2 taken from dictionary.com:

in sociology, a school of thought pertaining to the ways social phenomena are created, institutionalized, and made into tradition by humans

source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/social+constructionism

Definition #3 taken from encyclopedia.com:

Social constructionism is a general term sometimes applied to theories that emphasize the socially created nature of social life.

source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-socialconstructionism.html

The definitions I have provided above are the type of social constructionism that the social sciences use.

There is a much more specific definition of social constructionism which maintains that all knowledge is socially constructed (source: http://www.aforts.com/colloques_ouvrages/colloques/actes/interventions/fatih_sahin.doc). However, this is not the social constructionism upon which the social sciences are based AND it does not conflict with rationalism. This social constructionism states that our knowledge is socially constructed (even our knowledge of real things) however, it does not make any statement as to the existence of nature. It only addresses our knowledge of nature.

Therefore, even if the social sciences were based on this more specific definition of social constructionism (which they are not) they still would not conflict with naturalism. As you said, naturalism states "nature exists". However, social constructionism does not state "nature does not exist" instead it states "our knowledge of nature is socially constructed". However, as I stated earlier, this is still irrelevant to the relationship between the social sciences and the natural sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

Here is a summary of the undeniable conflicts between the humanities and non-natural sciences on the one hand, and the natural sciences on the other hand:

 

I have denied each of them.

Epistemologist wrote:

Metaphysics (Humanities) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).  

 

First of all metaphysics is only one very small part of the humanities and is not even existent in all of its fields. Second of all, Metaphysics is not even addressed in any way by Naturalism.

edit:To clarify my first objection, I am not saying that metaphysics only being a small part of the humanities is a reason that the humanities does not conflict the natural sciences. It is more of just an observation that the word in the parenthesis, is a much broader term than it could be, and this makes the statement a bit misleading.

edit#2: keep in mind that the natural sciences only employ methodological naturalism. Any other type of naturalism is completely irrelevant to our discussion.

Epistemologist wrote:

Social constructionism (social science) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).  

 

the social constructionism in social science is just a term which refers to the theories describing how social constructs develop. This in no way makes any reference to or contradiction of naturalism.

Epistemologist wrote:

Rationalism (formal science) vs. Empiricism (Natural science).  

 

you have not shown how these contradict each other when referred to in terms of their respective sciences. Like in the case of social constructionism I am going to assume that you do not have correct definitions for the terms. It seems you are referencing the philosophical contradiction described in this link: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/

It is true that empiricism and rationalism by some definitions given in philosophy do contradict each other; however, these are not the definitions that are employed by the formal  and natural sciences.

Definition of empricism that causes conflict as described in the link I provided:

Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge.

 

Definition that the natural sciences use when people say that the natural sciences follow empiricism:

empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

Keep in mind that when drawing a contradiction between natural and formal sciences you must use the definition of empiricism which is relevant to the natural sciences. Just because there exist conflicting definitions of certain philosophical terms does not mean these specific definitions are relevant to a comparison between the formal and natural sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

I know you don’t represent ‘The Rational Response Squad’. I only emphasize that there is ‘mob rule’ in this forum because every time I highlight the conflicts between the humanities and natural science, everyone else chants ‘there is no conflict’. Smiling On different points, the subjects conflict, coexist, or complement each other. That is how for example the discipline of psychology classifies its different approaches – conflict, complementarity, and coexistence.

 perhaps the reason so many people are in agreement as to the nonexistence of conflicts is because conflicts actually do not exist? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Epistemologist wrote: Most

Epistemologist wrote:

Most (or almost all) people using this forum don’t seem to have much knowledge of philosophy.

 

And personal experience does not count as evidence in a discussion like this.

The reason I don't have much knowledge of philosophy is because of people like you.  I'm a logical-analytical thinker, a realistic pragmatist, and if you like Myers-Briggs, INTJ with my score on the "T" 100%.  (For those who have never been forced to sit through a corporate touchy-feely session, Introvert-iNtuitive-Thinking-Judgemental.)  Which means you lost me ages ago.

Wikipedia wrote:

Before the development of modern science, scientific questions were addressed as a part of metaphysics known as "natural philosophy"; the term "science" itself meant "knowledge" of epistemological origin. The scientific method, however, made natural philosophy an empirical and experimental activity unlike the rest of philosophy, and by the end of the eighteenth century it had begun to be called "science" in order to distinguish it from philosophy. Thereafter, metaphysics became the philosophical enquiry [sic] of a non-empirical character into the nature of existence.

You can hang on to ancient ideas - really, this is Aristotle's bag - or you can move into the 21st century with the rest of us.  The article reads to me like general diddling with yourself.  I can't stomach it long enough to even much information out of it.

Now towards the end of the article is some rationality:

Wikipedia wrote:

Metaphysics has been continuously contended in history as vague or untrue.

David Hume argued with his empiricist principle that all knowledge involves either relations of ideas or matters of fact:

If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. — David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Hume's assertion is self-defeating if it itself is not self-evident or empirically verifiable.[8]

Immanuel Kant prescribed a limited role to the subject and argued against knowledge progressing beyond the world of our representations, except to knowledge that the noumena exist:

...though we cannot know these objects as things in themselves, we must yet be in a position at least to think them as things in themselves; otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears. — Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason pp. Bxxvi-xxvii

Proceeding from Kant's statement about antinomy, A.J. Ayer in "Language, Truth and Logic" using the verifiability theory of meaning concluded that metaphysical propositions were neither true nor false but strictly meaningless, as were religious views. However, Karl Popper argued that metaphysical statements are not meaningless statements, but rather not fallible, testable or provable statements[citation needed] i.e. neither empirical observations nor logical arguments could falsify metaphysical statements to show them to be true or false. Hence, a metaphysical statement usually implies an idea about the world or about the universe, which may be reasonable but is ultimately not empirically testable.

Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazzali wrote a book entitled Tahafut al-falasifah(Incoherence of Philosophers) as a refutation of metaphysics.

Here are a few really big names in philosophy - even I recognize them.  I like Hume - Throw it in the flames. 

However, if you wish to assert a metaphysical statement is metadata - in the same sense as a computer database has metadata - I might buy it as having some value in certain limited ways.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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butterbattle wrote:Did you

butterbattle wrote:

Did you intend to post this in the "Strange Occurences vs. Rationality Thread"? It seems much more relevant there. In this thread it is only loosely relevant in the sense that it describes open mindedness. However, the statement about open mindedness was not really a central part of any argument in  this thread and was only referenced as a brief aside. Also, the definition of open mindedness is not central to the message of that video. The only purpose that I can see it serving in this thread is to be a way of making fun of Epistemologist in a very condescending way without contributing anything to the actual discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

v4ultingbassist wrote:
“You just said that the conflict is between those who claim 'nature exists' and those who claim 'nature does not exist.'  Social constructionism is dependent on humans, but we have scientific evidence (empirical, if you will) that at one point humans didn't exist.  So are you here to contest all that is astrophysics, evolution, archeology, and geology (to name a few) are wrong?  It appears that I am not the one lacking in education, because there are multiple fields of study in direct opposition to your argument that you seem to have overlooked.”

 

Ideas that are new to one seem like madness v4ultingbassist. You are interpreting the social sciences from the perspective of the natural sciences. However, the social sciences hold a perspective of their own. Naturalism (the idea that nature exists independently of the human mind) is a fundamental presupposition of the natural sciences. Social constructionism (the idea that nature is actually only a social construct in human minds) is a fundamental presupposition of the social sciences. 

 


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Whatthedeuce wrote:
“Natural science makes no claims about metaphysics.”

 

Yes it does. It presupposes metaphysical naturalism, which is obviously a perspective in metaphysics.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“You do not know what the definition of the term social constructionism is.”

 

I know all about social constructionism. I got a distinction for my definition of it when I presented that definition in a psychology essay.

 

I am going to be blunt with you. You don’t understand those definitions of social constructionism that you have referenced. As we are talking about social constructionism vs. naturalism, I recommend articles on the social construction of nature. These articles explain how from the perspective of social constructionism, nature itself is actually a social construct, and not a reality that exists independently of the human mind:

 

http://phg.sagepub.com/cgi/content/short/26/6/767

 

http://www.jstor.org/pss/2564234

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
Epistemologist wrote:
“Here is a summary of the undeniable conflicts between the humanities and non-natural sciences on the one hand, and the natural sciences on the other hand:

 

Metaphysics (Humanities) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).   

 

Social constructionism (social science) vs. Naturalism (Natural science).   

 

Rationalism (formal science) vs. Empiricism (Natural science).

 

“I have denied each of them.”

 

Then if you took a philosophy of science module at university, you would fail miserably. Sorry. Smiling

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“First of all metaphysics is only one very small part of the humanities and is not even existent in all of its fields. Second of all, Metaphysics is not even addressed in any way by Naturalism.”

 

Methodological naturalism presupposes metaphysical naturalism. You cannot have methodological naturalism without metaphysical naturalism i.e. methodological naturalism could not exist if nature did not exist.

 

Metaphysical naturalism is a perspective in metaphysics.

 

You don’t understand the difference between rationalism and empiricism in relation to the formal and natural sciences. There is no such thing as a definition of rationalism that does not conflict with empiricism. If rationalism and empiricism did not conflict, then they would be the same perspective, which they are not. Rationalism maintains that knowledge and truth, ultimately, can only be acquired through reason. And empiricism maintains that knowledge and truth, ultimately, can only be acquired through observation. That is an irreconcilable conflict.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“perhaps the reason so many people are in agreement as to the nonexistence of conflicts is because conflicts actually do not exist?”

 

No, it’s because most people are ignorant of philosophy.


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cj wrote:
“Here are a few really big names in philosophy - even I recognize them.  I like Hume - Throw it in the flames.”

 

Hume did deny the validity of metaphysics as a source of truth and knowledge. However, that claim by Hume is itself metaphysical, as your Wikipedia article quote says. So Hume is telling us to reject what he said. Therefore we can keep metaphysics. Smiling


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Whatthedeuce to butterbattle wrote:
“Did you intend to post this in the "Strange Occurences vs. Rationality Thread"? It seems much more relevant there. In this thread it is only loosely relevant in the sense that it describes open mindedness. However, the statement about open mindedness was not really a central part of any argument in  this thread and was only referenced as a brief aside. Also, the definition of open mindedness is not central to the message of that video. The only purpose that I can see it serving in this thread is to be a way of making fun of Epistemologist in a very condescending way without contributing anything to the actual discussion.”

 

Hey thanks Whatthedeuce. It’s nice to see at least you are not acting like a sheep.


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Epistemologist wrote:Ideas

Epistemologist wrote:

Ideas that are new to one seem like madness v4ultingbassist. You are interpreting the social sciences from the perspective of the natural sciences. However, the social sciences hold a perspective of their own. Naturalism (the idea that nature exists independently of the human mind) is a fundamental presupposition of the natural sciences. Social constructionism (the idea that nature is actually only a social construct in human minds) is a fundamental presupposition of the social sciences. 

 

No, it isn't.  Guess what?  The social sciences are supposed to be scientific.  Many consider them pseudo-scientific because of their level of complexity relative to other scientific fields that they are based on but haven't fully developed.  And I am not interpreting.  You have told me what social constructionism posits.  I have told you that that is in DIRECT opposition to much of science. 

 

The presupposition of social constructionism (NOT the social sciences) is madness because there is mounds of evidence opposing it.  Answer this for me, without intuition as a source for truth, can social constructionism be justified?  Because I see no rational (certainly no empirical) way to do it.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“perhaps the reason so many people are in agreement as to the nonexistence of conflicts is because conflicts actually do not exist?”

 

No, it’s because most people are ignorant of philosophy.

Wait, I've got an idea!  Since you have deep insight into the mysteries of philosophy that us mere mortals simply cannot grasp, why don't you dig up your coursework on logic and rhetoric and go through your posts so far and identify all the fallacies?

 

Does that sound like a plan, professor?  Let's start with post (for the sake of brevity) #64, maybe you can shed some light on this little gem.  My favorite part is where you say:

ProfessorofPhilosophy wrote:
If you want me to provide statistics to show that a significant proportion of humanities academics believe that metaphysics generates truth and knowledge, I cannot do that. I don’t know where to get the statistics from. There are probably not any stats for that.

Then you say:

ProfessorofPhilosophy wrote:
And personal experience does not count as evidence in a discussion like this.

 

  Uh-oh, it looks like the Dr. Epistimologist has some severe rectal cranium inversion, compounded by acute case of hubris!

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Epistemologist wrote: cj

Epistemologist wrote:

 

cj wrote:
“Here are a few really big names in philosophy - even I recognize them.  I like Hume - Throw it in the flames.”

 

Hume did deny the validity of metaphysics as a source of truth and knowledge. However, that claim by Hume is itself metaphysical, as your Wikipedia article quote says. So Hume is telling us to reject what he said. Therefore we can keep metaphysics. Smiling

Yeah, pick the one you like and toss the others.  We all do it.  I'm tossing you.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“You do not know what the definition of the term social constructionism is.”

 

I know all about social constructionism. I got a distinction for my definition of it when I presented that definition in a psychology essay.

 

I am going to be blunt with you. You don’t understand those definitions of social constructionism that you have referenced. As we are talking about social constructionism vs. naturalism, I recommend articles on the social construction of nature. These articles explain how from the perspective of social constructionism, nature itself is actually a social construct, and not a reality that exists independently of the human mind:

 

http://phg.sagepub.com/cgi/content/short/26/6/767

 

http://www.jstor.org/pss/2564234

 

perhaps I phrased that incorrectly. You do know a definition of social constructionism. However, given the conclusions you have drawn from it, and the links you provided, your definition appears to be one which, while philosophically important, is not the basis for how the social sciences evaluate the truth value of statements. Based on the content of the articles you presented, I am convinced that the first three definitions I provided in post#67 are different from the ones employed by the links you provided. They unfortunately do not provide a definition of social constructionism (in fact they, seem to be stating that many terms in the related philosophy are so ambiguously defined that it is nearly impossible to tell what they refer to when people use them). They also state that the claim that nature is not a reality that exists independently of the human mind is contested.

Also, the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy states that there do exist forms of social constructionism that do not deny naturalism even though these forms may be rare and that anti-naturalist approaches are widely associated with social constructionism. source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/social-construction-naturalistic/

Since you claim to be so well informed of the definition of social constructionism, could you please define the term, and possibly justify that the social sciences do in fact use your specific definition when evaluating truth? 

 

Epistemologist wrote:

Methodological naturalism presupposes metaphysical naturalism. You cannot have methodological naturalism without metaphysical naturalism i.e. methodological naturalism could not exist if nature did not exist.

 

I do not see why methodological naturalism could not exist if nature did not exist. I agree that methodological naturalism would cease to be useful if nature did not exist; however, it would still exist as a logically consistent concept.

Also, metaphysical naturalism states that only natural things exist. If, for example both natural and supernatural things existed, methodological naturalism would still exist; however metaphysical naturalism would be false.

epistemologist wrote:

You don’t understand the difference between rationalism and empiricism in relation to the formal and natural sciences. There is no such thing as a definition of rationalism that does not conflict with empiricism. If rationalism and empiricism did not conflict, then they would be the same perspective, which they are not. Rationalism maintains that knowledge and truth, ultimately, can only be acquired through reason. And empiricism maintains that knowledge and truth, ultimately, can only be acquired through observation. That is an irreconcilable conflict.

 

your definition of rationalism differs from that of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Source: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/#1.1) The one given in this encyclopedia of the acceptance of the intuition/deduction thesis is the type of rationalism which is inherent to the formal sciences.

Unfortunately, this encyclopedia did not give a definition of empiricism when viewed from the perspective of the philosophy of science. It instead just gives a broad definition for empiricism as a whole. However, in post #67 I did post the definition of the empiricism in the philosophy of science that is inherent to the natural sciences. I shall reiterate what I stated in post #67:

"empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world, rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation."

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

Since we are referring to a comparison between the natural and formal sciences, it is necessary to use definitions of empiricism and rationalism that are consistent with the philosophies of the natural and formal sciences. When these specific definitions are used, there is no contradiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Epistemologist wrote: By

Epistemologist wrote:

 

By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

 

 

Your humanities professors have fallen for a comon misconception.  Mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. are all fields that are studied scientifically.  But being fields they are not themselves science.

 

Science is not a field.  It is a method.

 

This is a very common misconception.  People seem to think that science is the study of certain types of things (a field), but it is not.  Rather, science is a way of studying things, and one may attempt that method in any field.  Equating "humanities are outside of the sciences" with "humanities are are not sciences" is a category mistake because it treats science as a field rather than a method.  In the former, "the sciences" refer to fields that are traditionally thought to be scientific.  But being outside of those fields does not mean the method of science is not being used.

 

How do your humanities professors go about obtaining their truths?  Do they use observations?  Do they make testable claims and then test their claims?  If so, then they are studying the humanities scientifically, and thus they are performing science.  If they do not, then in what sense do they have knowledge if they can't make testable claims?

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

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Thank you Zaq

Zaq wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

 

By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

 


Science is not a field.  It is a method.

 

I knew we were all missing an important point in this debate.  This is it.  Thanks.

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cj wrote:
“Yeah, pick the one you like and toss the others.  We all do it.  I'm tossing you.”

 

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to respond to everything everyone says, so I have to be selective. I try to limit discussion to just with one other person. That happens to be Whatthedeuce in this discussion. Please don’t feel offended. No one is tossing anyone here (although I don’t know what the forum users are getting up to when they’re not on here. Smiling).

 

 


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Whatthedeuce wrote:
“Since you claim to be so well informed of the definition of social constructionism, could you please define the term, and possibly justify that the social sciences do in fact use your specific definition when evaluating truth?”

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
I do not see why methodological naturalism could not exist if nature did not exist. I agree that methodological naturalism would cease to be useful if nature did not exist; however, it would still exist as a logically consistent concept.

 

Also, metaphysical naturalism states that only natural things exist. If, for example both natural and supernatural things existed, methodological naturalism would still exist; however metaphysical naturalism would be false.

 

I am going to try address several of your points simultaneously.

 

A common mistake that people make about philosophy is to conclude that it is an independent academic subject. It is not. Philosophy is the meaning of all academic subjects. Metaphysics, in particular, is simply the way that all academic subjects – both humanities and sciences – define themselves. So no subject can be isolated from metaphysics. Without metaphysics, there would be no difference between academic subjects. The reason why different academic subjects conflict with each other is because their metaphysical perspectives are different. The humanities, social sciences, formal sciences, and natural sciences, conflict in terms of their different metaphysical perspectives. Different academic subjects also have different epistemological (methodological) perspectives, but metaphysics precedes epistemology i.e. the epistemology of a subject emerges from its particular metaphysical perspective. So ultimately, the difference between different academic subjects is metaphysical, not epistemological.

 

People often seem to think that natural science and philosophy are in competition as different ways of knowing the world. People may say that the knowledge acquired by natural science is verifiable, and the knowledge acquired by philosophy is not. However, that is a complete misunderstanding of philosophy. Philosophy, specifically metaphysics, is simply the difference between different academic subjects. That is why it is not in competition with natural science. Natural science is itself a particular metaphysical perspective (naturalism). That means that natural science, and all other academic subjects, are ultimately metaphysical (philosophical).

 

The metaphysical differences between the different academic subjects is this. The natural sciences maintain that reality is ultimately natural. The social sciences maintain that reality is ultimately social, and social constructionism is an expression of this perspective. The formal sciences maintain that reality is ultimately rational. The humanities maintain that reality is ultimately human. These are the different metaphysical foundational axioms of these four academic perspectives. These differences are irreconcilable, and therefore they conflict.

 

A good example a forum user here who has no idea what philosophy is Bobspence1 (hopefully he’ll debate that Smiling). In his signature, he classifies philosophy as an academic discipline between science and theology. It is certainly not that, as I’ve explained above. It is actually a science, and it’s a humanity, and it’s the essence of every subject.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“Since we are referring to a comparison between the natural and formal sciences, it is necessary to use definitions of empiricism and rationalism that are consistent with the philosophies of the natural and formal sciences. When these specific definitions are used, there is no contradiction.”

 

The formal sciences hold the perspective that truth and knowledge can ultimately only acquired through reason. The natural sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can ultimately only be attained through observation. That’s why the formal sciences seek truth through reason, and the natural sciences seek truth through observation.  Reason is rationalism, and observation is empiricism. The difference has been labelled as a key difference between Platonism and Aristotelianism. This is one of the most famous conflicts in philosophy. Plato was a rationalist and promoted the formal sciences. Aristotle was an empiricist and promoted the natural sciences.

 

 


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Zaq wrote:
Epistemologist wrote:
“By the sciences I mean mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.”

 

Sorry, I’m not using that definition of the sciences any more. I changed my mind during the discussion. Smiling I’m using the definitions of formal science, natural science, social science, and the humanities, from Wikipedia:

 

Formal science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_science

 

Natural science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_science

 

Social science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences

 

Humanities: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities

 

Thanks Zaq for your other info. Knowing that science is a method and not a field really clears things up.

 

So Zaq, what’s a scientist then? When someone says they are a scientist, why do people usually conclude that they are therefore not, for example, a linguist, a philosopher, or a lawyer? Linguists, philosophers, and lawyers, are practicing science, so why don’t people usually call them scientists?

 


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Epistemologist wrote:

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but that is pretty much the most ridiculous thing you have said so far in this discussion. Social constructionism maintains that there is no such thing as nature, and that nature is nothing more than a social construction. Naturalism on the other hand maintains that nature does indeed exist. So naturalism says ‘nature exists’, and social constructionism says ‘nature does not exist’. If you don’t think that is a contradiction, then you may as well say that it is possible to be atheist and theist simultaneously. I am starting to doubt whether I can take you seriously any more. Smiling

 

maybe im wrong but social constructivism doesnt say nature doesn't exist. it says we just socially construct what nature is. does it include humans? does it included buildings? does it include beaver dams? It mearly says whatever is part of nature is part of nature because we said it was part of nature. it certainly doesn't say nature doesn't exist. It exists because we socially constructed the idea of nature. Ideas are as real as bullets, (they have to be in the social scientists eyes or all your studies are pointless. And just trust me ideas are real they do exist, the idea of Marx etc. have had more impact on the world than most people have had, that alone thats them real.) Because this is what humans believe nature is, this is how science will typically view nature as well.  Yes individuals have disagreements on what nature is but that is because it is a social construction.

 

But i supose you can say it doesn't exist, but really that is not controdictory to the way a scientist would say nature does exist. both agree the physical stuff the scientist studies exists. the social constructivist would more be talking about what nature is made up of and that nature is just a social construction, just something we came up with etc.

 

I don't know too much about social constructivism so maybe im confused or whatever.

 

P.S. when you say things like nature doesn't exist to people who have no clue what social constructivism is naturally they are going take it wrong. i duno if any of you duno what it is i havnet yet read

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
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Tapey wrote:
maybe im wrong but social constructivism doesnt say nature doesn't exist. it says we just socially construct what nature is. does it include humans? does it included buildings? does it include beaver dams? It mearly says whatever is part of nature is part of nature because we said it was part of nature. it certainly doesn't say nature doesn't exist. It exists because we socially constructed the idea of nature. Ideas are as real as bullets, (they have to be in the social scientists eyes or all your studies are pointless. And just trust me ideas are real they do exist, the idea of Marx etc. have had more impact on the world than most people have had, that alone thats them real.) Because this is what humans believe nature is, this is how science will typically view nature as well.  Yes individuals have disagreements on what nature is but that is because it is a social construction.

 

 

 

But i supose you can say it doesn't exist, but really that is not controdictory to the way a scientist would say nature does exist. both agree the physical stuff the scientist studies exists. the social constructivist would more be talking about what nature is made up of and that nature is just a social construction, just something we came up with etc.

 

 

 

I don't know too much about social constructivism so maybe im confused or whatever.

 

Thanks Tapey for clearing that up. In my psychology degree studies, social constructionism has been presented as a conflict with naturalism. I agree that ideas are as real as bullets. That’s a good comparison. Smiling

 

Like you say, social constructionism maintains that everything human beings know is a social construction, which has no independent existence from human thought. That includes nature. From the perspective of social constructionism, nature is an idea, or set of ideas, in people’s minds i.e. it has no existence independently from human ideas. It is an agreement between people.

 

Naturalism on the other hand maintains that nature is a reality that exists independently from human ideas. You are right to say social constructionism does not deny the existence of nature. Social constructionism maintains that ‘nature’, as defined by naturalism, does not exist; only the ‘idea’ of nature exists. ‘Nature’ includes everything that we experience through our senses i.e. the entire universe. So from the perspective of social constructionism, the universe is an idea or set of ideas within human minds; the universe does not exist externally to human minds.

 

To clarify further, from the perspective of social constructionism, if human ideas did not exist, then the universe (nature) would not exist, because the universe (nature) is human ideas.

 

That hopefully makes more sense. Smiling

 

 


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Epistemologist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

 From the perspective of social constructionism, nature is an idea, or set of ideas, in people’s minds i.e. it has no existence independently from human ideas.   

 

This is idealism, which is definitely in direct contradiction with naturalism/materialism/physicalism.  If reality is a construct of our minds, why are there specific physical/chemical/biological etc processes or laws that our minds cannot manipulate?  If someone shoots you with a gun, there is nothing your mind can do to stop the bullet.  To me, it clearly follows that there exists a set of rules that are independent of human ideas.  We have discovered species we didn't know existed.  If we didn't have knowledge of them, then, from this perspective, they didn't exist.  From basic knowledge we know animals are born, grow, and die, so finding a new species alive means it was born.  Pretty simple logic here that the new species existed before we knew about it, violating what you have proposed here.  My previous example of universe/galaxy/earth formation science stands too.  Social constructionism cannot account for this without admitting some form of reality independent of human thought.

 

 


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The Social Construction of Reality

Everyone,

 

This article gives a good definition of social constructionism, from the book ‘The Social Construction of Reality.’ It explains that reality, from the perspective of social constructionism, is ideas in human minds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Construction_of_Reality

 

I’m not going to debate whether or not the social constructionist perspective is true. I am only arguing that it is a perspective of the social sciences, and that it conflicts with naturalism; the perspective of the natural sciences.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“You do know a definition of social constructionism. However, given the conclusions you have drawn from it, and the links you provided, your definition appears to be one which, while philosophically important, is not the basis for how the social sciences evaluate the truth value of statements. Based on the content of the articles you presented, I am convinced that the first three definitions I provided in post#67 are different from the ones employed by the links you provided. They unfortunately do not provide a definition of social constructionism (in fact they, seem to be stating that many terms in the related philosophy are so ambiguously defined that it is nearly impossible to tell what they refer to when people use them). They also state that the claim that nature is not a reality that exists independently of the human mind is contested.”

 

The perspective of the social sciences is strong or weak. Strong sociology maintains that nature is a social construct, and has no existence independent from human ideas. That absolutely contradicts naturalism. Weak sociology maintains that nature is at least in part a social construct, but also has some existence independently from human ideas. Social constructionism is an example of strong sociology. It can be argued that it is only strong sociology that is representative of the social sciences, because it is only strong sociology that differentiates social science from natural science i.e. if strong sociology did not exist, then the social sciences would not be a scientific field independent of, and different from, the natural sciences.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“Since we are referring to a comparison between the natural and formal sciences, it is necessary to use definitions of empiricism and rationalism that are consistent with the philosophies of the natural and formal sciences. When these specific definitions are used, there is no contradiction.”

 

Likewise, rationalism and empiricism are weak or strong. Strong rationalism maintains that truth and knowledge can only be acquired through reason. Weak rationalism maintains that truth and knowledge can be acquired through reason as well as observation. Strong empiricism maintains that truth and knowledge can only be acquired through observation. Weak empiricism maintains that truth and knowledge can be acquired through both observation and reason. Pure mathematics is an example of strong rationalism in the formal sciences. String theory is an example of weak empiricism in the natural sciences. String theory is also an example of weak rationalism, depending on which epistemological perspective you’re looking at it from. We could probably list almost endless examples of strong and weak rationalism and empiricism in the formal and natural sciences. You have been emphasising the existence of weak empiricism and weak rationalism, which don’t conflict with each other. However, the difference between rationalism and empiricism cannot be known in terms of their weak forms, and the weak forms are not fully representative of the positions. Real rationalism is strong, and real empiricism is strong, and in their strong forms they conflict between the formal and natural sciences.

When we link to dictionary and encyclopaedia definitions, that helps. However, to discuss these ideas, we also need to put them into our own words. I find it easier to know what you are trying to say when you put the definitions you are linking to into your own words. It also helps us to understand what the definitions mean when we do that.


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v4ultingbassist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

 From the perspective of social constructionism, nature is an idea, or set of ideas, in people’s minds i.e. it has no existence independently from human ideas.   

 

This is idealism, which is definitely in direct contradiction with naturalism/materialism/physicalism.  If reality is a construct of our minds, why are there specific physical/chemical/biological etc processes or laws that our minds cannot manipulate?  If someone shoots you with a gun, there is nothing your mind can do to stop the bullet.  To me, it clearly follows that there exists a set of rules that are independent of human ideas.  We have discovered species we didn't know existed.  If we didn't have knowledge of them, then, from this perspective, they didn't exist.  From basic knowledge we know animals are born, grow, and die, so finding a new species alive means it was born.  Pretty simple logic here that the new species existed before we knew about it, violating what you have proposed here.  My previous example of universe/galaxy/earth formation science stands too.  Social constructionism cannot account for this without admitting some form of reality independent of human thought.

 

 

hmm cards on the table, the only time I have looked at social constructivism is in 2 weeks last year in a political science lecture so my memory may be off but I still think you have the wrong idea. Maybe not and im reading badly. I don't remember anything about social constructivism going against naturalism but it may very well, it wasn't the focus when i was learning about it. 

 

let me give an example. a beaver dam is part of nature but a human one isn't (too most people) it is only that way because that is how we have socially constructed our reality. Computers would be part of nature if we socially constructed it that way. There is no ultimate thing about what nature is, it is whatever human recognise it to be. unless im very much mistaken it is not saying there really is no "what we call nature", merely that it is nature because that is what we recognise it to be. While it is correct as a social constructivist to say there is no nature outside of humans it is a very bad choice of words for those that are not familiar with the theory.

 

I don't see how this controdicts naturalism, but if it does whatever. it seems obvious to me that it is nature because that is what humans regognise it as. Nature itself doesn't regognise its self as nature its only us that does this. So absent a god it pretty much has to be a social construction. But regardless of what we see it as all the same stuff is there.

 

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Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
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No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
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Tapey wrote:v4ultingbassist

Tapey wrote:

v4ultingbassist wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

 From the perspective of social constructionism, nature is an idea, or set of ideas, in people’s minds i.e. it has no existence independently from human ideas.   

This is idealism, which is definitely in direct contradiction with naturalism/materialism/physicalism.  If reality is a construct of our minds, why are there specific physical/chemical/biological etc processes or laws that our minds cannot manipulate?  If someone shoots you with a gun, there is nothing your mind can do to stop the bullet.  To me, it clearly follows that there exists a set of rules that are independent of human ideas.  We have discovered species we didn't know existed.  If we didn't have knowledge of them, then, from this perspective, they didn't exist.  From basic knowledge we know animals are born, grow, and die, so finding a new species alive means it was born.  Pretty simple logic here that the new species existed before we knew about it, violating what you have proposed here.  My previous example of universe/galaxy/earth formation science stands too.  Social constructionism cannot account for this without admitting some form of reality independent of human thought.

hmm cards on the table, the only time I have looked at social constructivism is in 2 weeks last year in a political science lecture so my memory may be off but I still think you have the wrong idea. Maybe not and im reading badly. I don't remember anything about social constructivism going against naturalism but it may very well, it wasn't the focus when i was learning about it. 

let me give an example. a beaver dam is part of nature but a human one isn't (too most people) it is only that way because that is how we have socially constructed our reality. Computers would be part of nature if we socially constructed it that way. There is no ultimate thing about what nature is, it is whatever human recognise it to be. unless im very much mistaken it is not saying there really is no "what we call nature", merely that it is nature because that is what we recognise it to be. While it is correct as a social constructivist to say there is no nature outside of humans it is a very bad choice of words for those that are not familiar with the theory.

I don't see how this controdicts naturalism, but if it does whatever. it seems obvious to me that it is nature because that is what humans regognise it as. Nature itself doesn't regognise its self as nature its only us that does this. So absent a god it pretty much has to be a social construction. But regardless of what we see it as all the same stuff is there.

That makes sense to me.

The specifics of what we are referring to when we use the term 'nature' is certainly a human, or, if you like, social, construct.

That in no way means that those referents, whether it be animals/plants/forest/mountains/etc, or the whole 'physical' universe (as distinct from whatever 'supernatural' is imagined to refer to), do not exist as external realities. 

To assume otherwise is a simple logical error, as when Epistemologist accused me of contradicting myself when I said that our perception of the universe was purely in our mind, but that the universe actually existed outside our mind.

Epistemologist wrote:

... if we only know the world as representation, then the world is only representation. Representations only exist in the mind. Therefore the world only exists in the mind.

The underlined is an explicit logical fallacy. This seems to represent his basic error.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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BobSpence1 wrote:

Epistemologist wrote:

... if we only know the world as representation, then the world is only representation. Representations only exist in the mind. Therefore the world only exists in the mind.

The underlined is an explicit logical fallacy. This seems to represent his basic error.

 

But you don't understand.  You don't know anything about philosophy and he knows everything about philosophy, so how could he possible make a fallacious argument?  I know he can't be wrong because he says he isn't.

 

Sorry Bob, you must be wrong.  I know because he says you are.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

BobSpence1 wrote:
Epistemologist wrote:
... if we only know the world as representation, then the world is only representation. Representations only exist in the mind. Therefore the world only exists in the mind.

 

The underlined is an explicit logical fallacy. This seems to represent his basic error.

 

It’s not a fallacy. It’s the definition of metaphysical idealism, which is part of Platonism. My university tutor gave me a distinction for that definition when I put it in a psychology essay. You only think it is a fallacy because you don’t understand what it means, just as most other people don’t understand it.

 

The problem is that no one in this forum seems to know what metaphysical idealism is, apart from v4ultingbassist and myself. Strong sociology, expressed as social constructionism, is a form of metaphysical idealism.

 

Metaphysical idealism (including social constructionism) is the opposite metaphysical perspective to physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism, which is part of Aristotelianism. From the perspective of metaphysical idealism, the world/universe is ideas in the mind i.e. it does not exist externally to the mind. From the opposite perspective, physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism, the world/universe exists independently from, and externally to, human ideas.

 

To know what physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism is, you have to understand what the opposite metaphysical perspective is. Most people have only been taught about physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism in school, but not its opposite. It is handy to know what both are, and you have to learn both if you study philosophy seriously.

 

This is the Wikipedia article on idealism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism

 

To clarify, I do not hold the metaphysical idealist perspective of social constructionism. I simply understand what it is. Understanding what something is does mean you believe it.


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Natural Science vs. Humanities

mellestad to BobSpence1 wrote:
“But you don't understand. You don't know anything about philosophy and he (Epistemologist) knows everything about philosophy, so how could he possible make a fallacious argument?  I know he can't be wrong because he says he isn't.

 

Sorry Bob, you must be wrong.  I know because he says you are.”

 

On the contrary, I am giving reasoned explanations and evidence for everything I say in this discussion.

 


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Epistemologist wrote:\ A

Epistemologist wrote:

\

A common mistake that people make about philosophy is to conclude that it is an independent academic subject. It is not. Philosophy is the meaning of all academic subjects. Metaphysics, in particular, is simply the way that all academic subjects – both humanities and sciences – define themselves.

This is just not true. Philosophy is an independent academic subject. Definition of philosophy:

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language

source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy

Epistemologist wrote:

So no subject can be isolated from metaphysics. Without metaphysics, there would be no difference between academic subjects. The reason why different academic subjects conflict with each other is because their metaphysical perspectives are different. The humanities, social sciences, formal sciences, and natural sciences, conflict in terms of their different metaphysical perspectives. Different academic subjects also have different epistemological (methodological) perspectives, but metaphysics precedes epistemology i.e. the epistemology of a subject emerges from its particular metaphysical perspective. So ultimately, the difference between different academic subjects is metaphysical, not epistemological.

 

I am going to reiterate the point that Zaq made in post #78

Zaq wrote:

Science is not a field. It is a method

As a field, science does not have any specific methaphysical perspective. Science only relies that certain epistemological perspectives need to be conditionally valid within the field of the science they are being applied to.

Epistemologist wrote:

People often seem to think that natural science and philosophy are in competition as different ways of knowing the world. People may say that the knowledge acquired by natural science is verifiable, and the knowledge acquired by philosophy is not. However, that is a complete misunderstanding of philosophy. Philosophy, specifically metaphysics, is simply the difference between different academic subjects. That is why it is not in competition with natural science. Natural science is itself a particular metaphysical perspective (naturalism). That means that natural science, and all other academic subjects, are ultimately metaphysical (philosophical).

 

no. the sciences are methods we use to discover truths and knowledge. The way this information is interpreted may be considered metaphysical; however, the way they are interpreted is not part of science.

Epistemologist wrote:

The metaphysical differences between the different academic subjects is this. The natural sciences maintain that reality is ultimately natural. The social sciences maintain that reality is ultimately social, and social constructionism is an expression of this perspective. The formal sciences maintain that reality is ultimately rational. The humanities maintain that reality is ultimately human. These are the different metaphysical foundational axioms of these four academic perspectives. These differences are irreconcilable, and therefore they conflict.

 

The sciences do not have metaphysical perspectives. They merely conditionally apply certain epistemological perspectives.

Epistemologist wrote:

A good example a forum user here who has no idea what philosophy is Bobspence1 (hopefully he’ll debate that Smiling). In his signature, he classifies philosophy as an academic discipline between science and theology. It is certainly not that, as I’ve explained above. It is actually a science, and it’s a humanity, and it’s the essence of every subject.

 

Philosophy is an academic discipline. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_academic_disciplines

This is a list of various academic disciplines. Philosophy is included. It appears you do not know what philosophy is.

Epistemologist wrote:

The formal sciences hold the perspective that truth and knowledge can ultimately only acquired through reason. The natural sciences maintain that truth and knowledge can ultimately only be attained through observation.

The formal and natural sciences make no such claim. The formal sciences hold that a certain category of truth and knowledge can be acquired through reason. They do not claim it is the only way of acquiring truth and knowledge. They also do not claim that the types of truths and knowledge that do not fall into the listed fields of formal sciences can be acquired through reason. The natural sciences also make no such claim. They claim that certain other types truth and knowledge can be attained through observation. They do not claim that observation is the only way of acquiring truth and knowledge. They also do not claim that types of truth and knowledge that do not fall in one of the listed fields of natural sciences can be acquired through observation. This is why definitions of rationalism and empiricism must be taken as they are relevant to the philosophy of science when discussing how the sciences utilize them.

Epistemologist wrote:
That’s why the formal sciences seek truth through reason, and the natural sciences seek truth through observation.  Reason is rationalism, and observation is empiricism. The difference has been labelled as a key difference between Platonism and Aristotelianism. This is one of the most famous conflicts in philosophy. Plato was a rationalist and promoted the formal sciences. Aristotle was an empiricist and promoted the natural sciences.

 

Do any modern sciences still use Platonism or Aristotelianism? I am fairly certain that they their relevance to science is obsolete.

Epistemologist wrote:

So Zaq, what’s a scientist then? When someone says they are a scientist, why do people usually conclude that they are therefore not, for example, a linguist, a philosopher, or a lawyer? Linguists, philosophers, and lawyers, are practicing science, so why don’t people usually call them scientists?

 

I can't speak for Zaq; however, I think that people do not use those terms because in most current vernaculars, the term "science" means "natural science". Our vernacular, however, does not decide the rigorous definitions.

Epistemologist wrote:

Like you say, social constructionism maintains that everything human beings know is a social construction, which has no independent existence from human thought. That includes nature. From the perspective of social constructionism, nature is an idea, or set of ideas, in people’s minds i.e. it has no existence independently from human ideas. It is an agreement between people.

 

Naturalism on the other hand maintains that nature is a reality that exists independently from human ideas. You are right to say social constructionism does not deny the existence of nature. Social constructionism maintains that ‘nature’, as defined by naturalism, does not exist; only the ‘idea’ of nature exists. ‘Nature’ includes everything that we experience through our senses i.e. the entire universe. So from the perspective of social constructionism, the universe is an idea or set of ideas within human minds; the universe does not exist externally to human minds.

 

To clarify further, from the perspective of social constructionism, if human ideas did not exist, then the universe (nature) would not exist, because the universe (nature) is human ideas.

 

Once again, there may exist a definition of social constructionism that implies that the universe is dependent on the human mind. However, this perspective is not held by the social sciences, and it is irrelevant to our discussion.

Epistemologist wrote:

This article gives a good definition of social constructionism, from the book ‘The Social Construction of Reality.’ It explains that reality, from the perspective of social constructionism, is ideas in human minds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Construction_of_Reality

This link does not maintain that reality is an idea of the human mind. It says that social reality is an idea of the human mind. This is not the same thing.

Epistemologist wrote:

 

I’m not going to debate whether or not the social constructionist perspective is true. I am only arguing that it is a perspective of the social sciences, and that it conflicts with naturalism; the perspective of the natural sciences.

I am arguing that social construction as you have defined it is not a perspective of the social sciences. Here is a very brief proof. Consider the following thought experiment:

Say we lived in an world where we could prove that nature exists outside of the human mind (i.e. in this hypothetical world, social constructionism as you have defined it is irrefutably demonstrably false)

Your definition of social constructionism would be completely invalid. However, none of the conclusions of the social sciences would change in any way.

Therefore, the social sciences do not depend on this definition of social constructionism.

Epistemologist wrote:

The perspective of the social sciences is strong or weak. Strong sociology maintains that nature is a social construct, and has no existence independent from human ideas. That absolutely contradicts naturalism. Weak sociology maintains that nature is at least in part a social construct, but also has some existence independently from human ideas. Social constructionism is an example of strong sociology. It can be argued that it is only strong sociology that is representative of the social sciences, because it is only strong sociology that differentiates social science from natural science i.e. if strong sociology did not exist, then the social sciences would not be a scientific field independent of, and different from, the natural sciences.

 

strong and weak sociology as you have described them here are philosophical perspectives which provide ways of interpreting the social sciences. They are not intrinsic to the social sciences themselves.

If strong sociology did not exist, then the social sciences would still be a scientific field independent of, and different from, the natural sciences. Why is this? This is because in this thread we have defined the natural sciences to be: Astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics. And we have defined the social sciences to be:Anthropology, economics, education, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology. These are clearly different in both strong and weak sociology. They are different because they are defined in mutually exclusive ways. The paragraph you have written depends on a definition of social and natural sciences that is different from what we have agreed on.

Epistemologist wrote:

Likewise, rationalism and empiricism are weak or strong. Strong rationalism maintains that truth and knowledge can only be acquired through reason. Weak rationalism maintains that truth and knowledge can be acquired through reason as well as observation. Strong empiricism maintains that truth and knowledge can only be acquired through observation. Weak empiricism maintains that truth and knowledge can be acquired through both observation and reason.

I have no problem with these definitions.

Epistemologist wrote:
Pure mathematics is an example of strong rationalism in the formal sciences.

As a math major, I strongly disagree with you. Strong rationalism, as you have defined it maintains that truth and knowledge can only be acquired through reason. Pure mathematics is mathematics that is not motivated by practical applications. What it does, is it takes axioms which are not proven, but instead assumed to be true. Then it uses reason to deduce other statements as being true when the given axioms are assumed. It does not make any claims as to the ability to evaluate any other types of truth. It also does not make any claims as to what would happen when the given axioms are not true. It also does not make any claims as to what would happen if additional axioms were assumed to be true.

Epistemologist wrote:

String theory is an example of weak empiricism in the natural sciences. String theory is also an example of weak rationalism, depending on which epistemological perspective you’re looking at it from. We could probably list almost endless examples of strong and weak rationalism and empiricism in the formal and natural sciences. You have been emphasising the existence of weak empiricism and weak rationalism, which don’t conflict with each other. However, the difference between rationalism and empiricism cannot be known in terms of their weak forms, and the weak forms are not fully representative of the positions. Real rationalism is strong, and real empiricism is strong, and in their strong forms they conflict between the formal and natural sciences.

there are no examples of strong rationalism or strong empiricism, as you have defined them, in the natural or formal sciences.

Epistemologist wrote:

When we link to dictionary and encyclopaedia definitions, that helps. However, to discuss these ideas, we also need to put them into our own words. I find it easier to know what you are trying to say when you put the definitions you are linking to into your own words. It also helps us to understand what the definitions mean when we do that.

O.K. from now on, I will do that.

 

I don't understand why the Christians I meet find it so confusing that I care about the fact that they are wasting huge amounts of time and resources playing with their imaginary friend. Even non-confrontational religion hurts atheists because we live in a society which is constantly wasting resources and rejecting rational thinking.


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Epistemologist

Epistemologist wrote:

mellestad to BobSpence1 wrote:
“But you don't understand. You don't know anything about philosophy and he (Epistemologist) knows everything about philosophy, so how could he possible make a fallacious argument?  I know he can't be wrong because he says he isn't.

 

Sorry Bob, you must be wrong.  I know because he says you are.”

 

On the contrary, I am giving reasoned explanations and evidence for everything I say in this discussion.

 

 

Indeed.  Now that you've said so it must be true.  :P

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Tapey wrote:maybe im wrong

Tapey wrote:

maybe im wrong but social constructivism doesnt say nature doesn't exist. it says we just socially construct what nature is.

I have read things written by pomo 'intellectuals' that goes much further than this. They way you write it makes it seem not all that crazy. The way some pomo authors write, it seem as if they believe that only social-linguistic systems exist. And nothing else. There have been articles published in Social Text that have claimed that there is no objective external reality. They have denounced the idea that an external world exists at all. I suppose that some of them are literally solipsists.

 

"physical 'reality' ... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct.''

That was published in North America's premier journal of cultural studies. Perhaps that is a view like how you described it, but perhaps it is going further into solipsism than that. And I love that that 'reality' was actually put in quotes in the journal.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
British General Charles Napier while in India


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I would like to clarify that

I would like to clarify that my positioning of Philosophy between Science and Theology is in terms of it being a subject worthy of study and capable of revealing something worth labelling 'truth'.

There are obviously other dimensions to all those areas or modalities of thought.

That statement of Epistemologist that I underlined is definitely a fallacy, and if it is indeed "the definition of metaphysical idealism, which is part of Platonism", then both those thought systems are fallacies.

I already knew that about Platonism, and if that statement really is "the definition of metaphysical idealism", then obviously that is also a fallacy. I already consider metaphysics to be a pointless, worthless 'discipline', so it all fits.

Epistemologist is fundamentally lacking in understanding of logic.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Epistemologist wrote:

It’s not a fallacy. It’s the definition of metaphysical idealism, which is part of Platonism.

its been to long since i leant about that crap. duno if you know the cave example, but its all comeing back. im going to assume thats what you are talking about because it makes sense then... as much as plato did anyway.

 

Epistemologist wrote:

 

To know what physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism is, you have to understand what the opposite metaphysical perspective is. Most people have only been taught about physicalism/materialism/naturalism/realism in school, but not its opposite. It is handy to know what both are, and you have to learn both if you study philosophy seriously.

I study philosophy seriously, political and environmental. political (plato, aristotle, machivelli, aquinias, hobbes, locke, rousseau, marx, mill and hume to name a few) and environmental (white, moncrief, dobel, kant, singer, regan, schweitzer, taylor, goodpaster, leopald, hetinger, throop,  paden, devall, sessions, watson, meadows, russow, krieger, heilbroner, hardin and golden just off the top of my head). the distinction isn't important for the stuff i do. but i know all that basically, just to long ago for me to bring it up easily.

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.


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Jormungander wrote:Tapey

Jormungander wrote:

Tapey wrote:

maybe im wrong but social constructivism doesnt say nature doesn't exist. it says we just socially construct what nature is.

I have read things written by pomo 'intellectuals' that goes much further than this.

go further than what I say and its called an acid trip. and i have no doubt may people are on acid

Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
No animal shall wear clothes.
No animal shall sleep in a bed.
No animal shall drink alcohol.
No animal shall kill any other animal.
All animals are equal.


Epistemologist
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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
This is just not true. Philosophy is an independent academic subject. Definition of philosophy:

 

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language

 

source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy

 

I know what philosophy is. I’m doing a degree in philosophy and psychology, and I score over 90% for all my essays. I don’t need to read a Wikipedia definition of philosophy. Yes philosophy can be studied as an academic subject in it’s own right. However, every academic subject defines itself using metaphysics, and academic perspectives are differentiated at the level of metaphysics. Metaphysics is the essence of every academic subject.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“As a field, science does not have any specific methaphysical perspective. Science only relies that certain epistemological perspectives need to be conditionally valid within the field of the science they are being applied to.”

 

Wrong. Smiling

 

The metaphysical perspective of the natural sciences as an example is naturalism, as well as physicalism.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“no. the sciences are methods we use to discover truths and knowledge. The way this information is interpreted may be considered metaphysical; however, the way they are interpreted is not part of science.”

 

I agree that science is a method. However, you are wrong on the second point. The data acquired through the scientific method is not interpreted metaphysically. Metaphysics comes before data, not after it. The steps proceed in this order: 1) Metaphysics defines the perspective e.g. physicalism. 2) The perspective informs the method. 3) The method informs and determines the data.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“The natural sciences also make no such claim (that truth and knowledge can only be acquired empirically).”

 

Yes they do. The logical positivists called it the verifiability principle. Logical positivism maintained that a statement is only true if it can be empirically verified. Logical positivism is the epistemological perspective of the natural sciences. The formal sciences don’t use the verifiability principle of positivism, therefore they confirm the truth of statements through reason alone.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
Do any modern sciences still use Platonism or Aristotelianism? I am fairly certain that they their relevance to science is obsolete.

 

Platonism and Aristotelianism are two important categories in philosophy, and the sciences are defined by philosophy. Platonism includes rationalism and idealism. Aristotelianism includes empiricism and physicalism/materialism. You don’t have to call rationalism and idealism Platonism, and the same for Aristotelianism. But philosophers know what you are talking about if you use those terms.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“Once again, there may exist a definition of social constructionism that implies that the universe is dependent on the human mind. However, this perspective is not held by the social sciences, and it is irrelevant to our discussion.”

 

Wrong. Strong sociology, which is the very essence of all the social sciences, defines reality as idea dependent i.e. from its perspective, nature is ideas in the mind (an agreement between people) and has no existence independent of human ideas. Social constructionism is an expression of strong sociology.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“This link does not maintain that reality is an idea of the human mind. It says that social reality is an idea of the human mind. This is not the same thing.”

 

You don’t understand sociology. From the perspective of sociology, social reality is the only reality there is i.e. from the perspective of sociology, nature/the universe is social reality. Here is an example from that article on universe maintenance, and that different societies live in different universes (universes and societies being synonymous in sociology):

 

Book quote from the article on the book ‘The Social Construction of Reality’ wrote:
“Specific procedures of universe-maintenance become necessary when the symbolic universe has become a problem. As long as this is not the case, the symbolic universe is self-maintaining, that is self-legitimating. An intrinsic problem presents itself with the process if transmission of the symbolic universe from one generation to another… [additionally] two societies confronting each other with conflicting universes will both develop conceptual machineries designed to maintain their respective universes… mythology represents the most archaic form of universe-maintenance… theological thought may be distinguished from its mythological predecessor simply in terms of its greater degree of theoretical systematization… Modern science is an extreme step in this development (p.104-116)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Social_Construction_of_Reality

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“I am arguing that social construction as you have defined it is not a perspective of the social sciences.”

 

That’s because you don’t understand sociology or social constructionism.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“If strong sociology did not exist, then the social sciences would still be a scientific field independent of, and different from, the natural sciences. Why is this? This is because in this thread we have defined the natural sciences to be: Astronomy, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics. And we have defined the social sciences to be:Anthropology, economics, education, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, psychology, sociology. These are clearly different in both strong and weak sociology. They are different because they are defined in mutually exclusive ways. The paragraph you have written depends on a definition of social and natural sciences that is different from what we have agreed on.”

 

Those lists of subjects you have referred to are not definitions. They are just lists of subjects. However, in the list of social sciences you have listed, sociology is the central subject i.e. sociology is the gold standard of what constitutes a social science. Other subjects are only classified as social sciences because they are more or less similar to sociology. Sociology differs from natural science in that it holds the metaphysical perspective that reality is ultimately social (inside human minds). Natural science, on the other hand, holds the metaphysical perspective that reality is ultimately natural (external to human minds).

 

Thanks for your clarification on the relationship between pure mathematics and the search for truth. I’m not a maths expert, so I won’t debate you on that. But as a philosophy student, I know that the formal sciences seek truth and knowledge through reason, rather than observation.

 

Whatthedeuce wrote:
“there are no examples of strong rationalism or strong empiricism, as you have defined them, in the natural or formal sciences.”

 

OK, there may not be specific examples, or at least we may not be able to agree on examples. However, the natural and formal sciences differ over the use of the verifiability principle of logical positivism. The natural sciences apply the verifiability principle, and the formal sciences do not.


Epistemologist
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Natural Science vs. Humanities

 

BobSpence1 wrote:
“That statement of Epistemologist that I underlined is definitely a fallacy, and if it is indeed "the definition of metaphysical idealism, which is part of Platonism", then both those thought systems are fallacies.

 

I already knew that about Platonism, and if that statement really is "the definition of metaphysical idealism", then obviously that is also a fallacy. I already consider metaphysics to be a pointless, worthless 'discipline', so it all fits.

 

Epistemologist is fundamentally lacking in understanding of logic.”

 

Then why did my philosophy professor give me a distinction for that definition and say that it is perfectly logical? It is well known in metaphysics that idealism is logical. However, I personally do not believe in idealism.