Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hidden Assumptions

When someone makes the case for the scientific method as the best intellectual tool available to man for the acquisition of knowledge, it is hard to tell whether they are making some of the unnecessary metaphysical assumptions that sometimes creep in along with this. 

Even if they are simply asserting that they will only trust knowledge that is acquired empirically, this is sort of disingenuous, because the best empirical theory of consciousness that we currently have suggests that we are constantly acquiring knowledge we can act on at levels beneath our conscious awareness. Some of this is all that ‘uncanny’ stuff. We have knowledge coded into our DNA and knowledge that we pick up without any sort of reflection i.e. conscious empirical method. 

Anyway, my wider point is that the scientific method starts with a common-sensical assumption about the nature of subjects and objects, which any philosopher would usually want to interrogate a bit more. 

Richard Dawkins is as ever one of the worst offenders. Sometimes he seems to be making a limited case for the optimal method for acquiring reliable information and then next minute he breaks cover and reveals that not only does he think a complete objective description of reality is possible, it is basically inevitable if we just keep up the process of scientific investigation long enough. 

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