Science and beliefs (was: the gods)

mgansten at mgansten at
Tue May 27 10:45:03 UTC 1997

Philip B. Jonsson writes:

>First: science is not value-neutral, but constitutes itself a value-system
>and a world-view operating under a set of premises that are agreed-upon
>rather than 'given', that may or may not be in conflict with other systems
>of world-explanation.

Perhaps this is the main point of disagreement underlying this discussion:
how to define science. It appears to me that the word has come to mean two
things: firstly, as Philip says, it represents a world-view among others‚ by
standing more or less as a synonym of empirism and being applied chiefly to
the natural sciences (with the humanistic disciplines, at least here in
Sweden, struggling to imitate them); but secondly, it also represents a
*rational ideal* which ought to be adopted by serious scholars, such as are
associated with universities, etc.

I for one do not accept the view that Science in the second sense is
identical with science in the first sense. Rather, I tend to view Science
("ideal" science) as an attitude of unprejudiced pursuit of knowledge,
judging each case on its own merits instead of imposing preconceived models
of understanding on one's object of investigation.

True enough, preconceived notions are very difficult (perhaps impossible) to
completely eradicate, but this is no reason to give up the ideal. The closer
we get to it, the better scientists we are -- just as a runner is a better
runner the closer he gets to his unattainable ideal of making the distance
of 100 m. in 0 seconds.

Martin Gansten

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