All things have a negative side. Every light casts a shadow. One can feel that they don’t entertain a thought, but you can’t avoid entertaining negatives. They are an inherent part of the equation that allows you to arrive at positives.


What is Scientism? in Scientism

Scientism

Scientism: The precept that science is the foundation of all knowledge and that all truth can be arrived at by empirical method.

Does this seem presumptuous, even crazy? The scientific method is a relatively new fangled thing. To think it can have all the answers seems crazy? Well, let’s embrace a more critical mindset as they would favour.

All truth is objective according to them. So the motivation to perform an observation has no relevance. Necessity has a mixed motive (if it has any objective motive at all), and thus there is no grounds for invention. Because, in fact, our biology is sufficient for preservation of the species. We can reproduce like rabbits and let predators cull our population letting only the biologically strong survive… Hence using the scientific position to refute scientism itself.

Scientism is the religion referred to in the Foundation series and is based on Asimov’s work who is not strictly a fiction writer. His fiction is rather dry, because he himself is an adherent of scientism. He couched his work in a fiction setting, but he has written non fiction work also. I have heard his non fiction is quite good, but little heard of course.

Scientism isn’t so fictional, it’s just not official. It is more a body of philosophy at this point, but they are pushing. It serves the fat cats well. They used to be kings, now they are tycoons. What’s the difference, really? Humans still have so many hard wired behaviours that sabotage us in the 21st century, but supposedly subjectivism is without substance. It is just something we can ignore. Long live science!

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Asimov’s theory that people’s action in aggregate can be predicted and manipulated is a notion of scientism. In fact, scientism denies the scientific validity of sociology since it includes too much subjectivity in its observations. Their rejection of metaphysics and subjective experience denies the metaphysical elements in it. So only actions impacting physical objects are relevant according to scientism. Relevant in what way? They adopt a reductionist view of all experience to any perception of truth. I will point out this isn’t my personal philosophy, but here we discuss all world beliefs and scientism is quite prevalent.

What is truth, then? Truth, according to scientism, is objective fact. Anything perceivable by the senses. Although science has proven that the senses and the brain do not leave sense data undistorted. What we perceive is colored by our neural interpretation. So their objectivism has serious holes in it, but it is still being adhered to. They are just paying lip service to being open to subjective experience as being valid. This method has been criticized as doomed. To not know the truth, by the quandary that we’re looking at it. Maybe there is truth, but we will never know it? It’s like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, that we can’t arrive at the ideal because the method denies the ideal. So for myself, science to me is metaphysics. This is one of my little heresies. :cool:

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Is it a waste of time to strive for an ideal? Not according to scientism. To those thinkers, our ideal life could only be reached by science. They are looking for freedom through science, with the idea that freedom from physical want would lead to freedom for individuals, and that through objective understanding of the social and physical world, government could be rendered obsolete. Ironic, since so much of our apparatus is still primitive in nature, and the idea of a post industrial age techno utopia has proven to be a serious delusion. Yet humans cling to what they think they know so tightly. Our delusion of all that free time technology was going to give us, in fact, seems quite the opposite. We have changed our living condition. yes, but here is where that evil word subjectivity creeps in. We have changed our living conditions, but are they better? Can science evaluate that idea?

Many of us do not succumb to childhood infectious diseases anymore, but they haven’t been eliminated. Scientific evidence shows, with the methods we are using, viruses are just adapting. They are breeding super viruses through ignoring epigenetic balance. Many say we are in a temporary reprieve from massive outbreak. We aren’t creating them of our own accord, but a new rapid jump in viral complexity has been observed that is unprecedented in history.

Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.

Travis Saunders
Dragon Intuitive
~science,mysticism,spirituality~

(Bold, italicized text is input from One World class participants. Thank you!)

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Your Insights on “What is Scientism?”

  1. Paul Maurice Martin

    Some of your remarks sound to me a little like your being critical of science as well as scientism. Science is clearly onto some aspect of truth. Scientific knowledge yields technologies like the one we’re using right now.

    That said, you point to a number of features of what I’d view as scientism too. I had a professor in div school who summed it up as “nothing buttery” – a phrase for reductionism. If brainwaves, for example, can be shown to underlie thought then thought, in a scientistic outlook, is “nothing but” brain waves. Which, of course, is ridiculous, otherwise there wouldn’t be those two concepts of “thought” and “brain waves.”

  2. Bob the Chef

    Let’s not oversimplify. Scientism is an untenable position for the simple reason that it cannot substantiate itself. What do I mean? I mean that scientism cannot, through it’s own restrictive definition of science and truth, justify scientism as true. Can we observe scientism? Can I smell it? Well, I might be able to smell it if Dawkins walked into the room, but in all seriousness, it is obviously absurd.

    Scientism of course narrows the bandwidth of what can be considered knowable, but even truth really takes a back seat in their minds. Modern science is after all a largely instrumental enterprise, less concerned with truth and more concerned with harnessing natural phenomena for technological reaons. This is a major point. The Greeks introduced the idea of teoria, or truth for its own sake (what it means, “for its own sake”, can be debated). This tradition was taken up and refined by the Roman Catholic Church, its purest expression found in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (collectively called thomism). It is a body of work that harmonizes Aristotle, parts of Plato, and Christianity (although the delineation between philosophy and theology is always kept, with no conflict and without ideological motivation other than truth, unlike most Modern philosophies).

    Second, I will correct you here. A fact is not anything seen through the senses, strictly speaking. That is an observation, perhaps, but even there we must interpret what we observe. Please see the Duhem-Quine thesis.

    Third, you cannot speak of “neurons coloring our perceptions” as a fundamental epistemological condition because it’s begging the question. It assumes a variety of things that contradict your scepticism (e.g. the concept of neuron, the link between brain and mind, etc, etc). How can science ever demonstrate what you demand when you’ve already presumed a reality posited by science, and how can your scepticism (of being able to “objectively” perceive reality) ever be appeased when you assert that neurons color our perceptions? You demand your enemy to hand over his sword, a sword you claim is unable to cut, and then attempt to use it to cut down your enemy, with that sword, as punishment. If it doesn’t cut, then what damage do you expect to do? Unless of course you secretly believe it cuts…

    And finally, the weaknesses of scientism do not somehow justify your world view. That is what is known as a false dichotomy. I would have to scour your website to see what you mean by “subjectivism”, but if it is what I think it is (a postmodernist stance, in which reality is ultimately unknowable, where we shift from knowing the real to our experiences of whatever it is we call real), then you’re in just as much trouble as the apologists for scientism. Neither is tenable for the same reason that their founding assumption contradicts itself.

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