Douglas wrote, responding to Victoria's question about the difference
between anecdotal and "scientific" information:
> There is a real need for for inspired and precise language
> with which to describe intuitive events within natural
> systems. As I've stated before, the dichotomy doesn't
> really exist..
As much as I hate to admit it ;-) I agree with Douglas. The scientific
- anecdotal dichotomy (at least the way people are using the term
anecdotal here)is artificial. But, information does differ in quality
(ie. reliability), and it goes beyond language.
> Anybody looking for a universal common denominator had
> better have a well defined (& intuitive) grasp of the
> whole. Then, the results of an analysis can be checked
> back against itself and with the comments of others.
My main point has been that the strength of science lies in the
existence of a community which does exactly what Douglas described. A
community of farmers can do the same. That is science.
In response to Douglas, Matthew wrote:
> but science as historical force does have real
> connections to and roots in positivism...
If by positivism you mean the movement that gave itself that name,
August Comte, the Vienna Circle, and Ernst Mach, etc. Then you are
certainly wrong. Positivism is barely a blip on the historical scale
compared to the institutions of science. The positivists claimed they
were the bearers of the true scientific method, and they were popular
for a few decades, but most scientists don't buy into that philosophy.
They did help set the climate for the discovery of relativity though.
> (which we might call reductionist)and so in a world view
> which privileges the quantifiable aspects of reality.
It irritates me how people throw around the term "reductionism." I
don't think you really know what it means. Websters New Collegiate
Dictionary (1979) defines it as "a procedure or theory that reduces
complex data or phenomena to simple terms; esp: oversimplification".
This is the epistemological sense of reductionism. Now we know, for
example, that Mendel's simple dominant-recessive model of genetics was a
gross oversimplification, yet it served as an important step in
understanding nature. Usually, rough understanding is better than none
at all. Folk knowledge too is often an oversimplification.
Reductionism can also mean "The practice of describing a phenomenon ...
in terms of an apparently more 'basic' or 'primitive' phenomenon"
(Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). This is the ontological sense of
reductionism. Aristotle thought celestial matter was fundamentally
different, and subject to different rules, than terrestrial matter.
Nature appeared discontinuous, and phenomena beyond the grasp of common
sense were spiritualized. Galileo's idea that behavior of heavenly
bodies could be described according to the rules of ordinary matter was
an example of reduction in the metaphysical sense. IMO, understanding
that bit of reality was a good thing!
I suspect many organic gardeners abhor reductionism (ontological sense)
because they are rooted in mind-matter dualism. They really want to
believe that that compost has a spiritual (mind)essence that cannot be
Quantifiable aspects of reality are "privileged" simply because they are
more important in practical terms (like "how much compost should I put
on my corn?"). Many accepted scientific "facts" are untestable
(unquantifiable strictly speaking) theories (eg, evolution)
> Science, I think, is moving past that, as noted above,
> towards recognition of intuition, whole systems,
> relative objectivity...
Ah, yes! here it is! the relativistic kernel. In other words: "X is
true for me but not for you", where X is some practical matter such as:
"spraying vitamin C on my Okra will protect it from nematodes." (I'm
sorry I'm not trying to ridicule you, just groping for an example)
> The fact remains, however, that science has alot to live
> down; we can't pretend that the uses and abuses of
> technology don't have anything to do with
> science and the scientific world view.
I believe that both science and the exploitation of nature are both
natural and deeply rooted in human nature, the one does not necessarily
cause the other. I will grant you this: Science has certainly given us
more power to exploit nature. Our power increases the need for
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command