“Naïve Empiricism”

Robert John Russell makes a point here that dovetails nicely with my last post and notes something I have been pointing out for some time now.
3. Vast new insights in philosophy and theology.

We are also living through an astonishing continental shift in philosophy and theology. We are witnessing the end of the modern period which began in the Enlightenment writings of Descartes, Hume and Kant, and which heard its death bell in the writings of Whitehead, Wittgenstein, Quine, and Heidegger. In particular, within recent philosophy of science, we have seen the end of a naive empiricism [emphasis added] brought about through the writings of Popper, Hanson, Hempel, Kuhn, Polanyi, Toulmin, Holton, Feyerabend, Lakatos, and others.

Whereas we once thought that we could appeal unambiguously to sense-data, we now know that all data is theory-laden. We once thought that science constructed its theories inductively out of such data and that it made progress by a simple extension of its basic theories. We now know that the route between theory and evidence is much more complex and circular, and that progress sometimes comes in massive and discontinuous shifts in our entire worldview. We once thought that the choice between competing theories was entirely rational, that consensus could be achieved quickly among all objective inquirers. We now know that the choice between theories is influenced by metaphysical, aesthetic, and even religious presuppositions held by scientists, and that consensus is seldom achieved without remainder.

I would add that until one is ready to engage these new insights he is question begging at best.  At worst, he is simply an echo chamber repeating assertions long dismissed.


It would be like someone spouting Ptolemaic concepts after Copernicus.

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2 Responses to “Naïve Empiricism”

  1. Burk Braun says:

    And so … how did the theologians “teach” Copernicus? Was what he did hindered or helped by them?

    If ideas are superceded, what do we owe those ideas? Historical annotation ? Yes. Current belief? No.

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  2. Darrell says:

    “And so … how did the theologians “teach” Copernicus? Was what he did hindered or helped by them?”

    Copernicus, per se, wasn’t the point of Russell’s essay nor mine. The point was paradigm shift. Your empiricism, as a metaphysical foundational view, has gone the way of Ptolemy. Why not address that main point instead of shifting to Copernicus, an aside? Neither Galileo nor Copernicus helps you. In a comprehensive historical way that supersedes any one person or moment, the fact remains that these shifts are theological/philosophical shifts and science is always embedded within and enabled to “see” by those lights.

    “If ideas are superceded, what do we owe those ideas?” The answer is we owe theology/philosophy both historically and presently.

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