[iDC] reading list // religious mediated spaces

Simon Biggs simon at babar.demon.co.uk
Sun Sep 10 05:36:45 EDT 2006

I agree that science as an institution, and scientists as part of that,
function more or less as Kuhn and co. outline it. Of course Kuhn's idea of
paradigm shift has also been superseded as a model for how new knowledge is
evolved as it depended on a totalising view of knowledge rather than the
multi-narrative character of a more open inter-cultural and
transdisciplinary understanding of cultural and scientific development.

Nevertheless, I would suggest that to be open to new knowledge and new
approaches most mainstream scientists would regard belief as an encumberance
rather than an aid, even though they would recognise that they rarely, if
ever, achieve the clinical faithlessness they aspire to. In this respect the
scientist would measure themselves against a relative degree of failure.

It was Heisenberg, long ago, who dispelled the ideal of scientific



On 10.09.06 00:20, "John Saccà" <aqueduc at gmail.com> wrote:

> 2006/9/9, Simon Biggs <simon at littlepig.org.uk>:
>> To me it seems
>> a given that science depends on an eternally sceptical view of data of any
>> kind. In such a context belief must be absent.
> This view of science was refuted long ago by Thomas Kuhn and Paul
> Feyerabend, among others.  As Feyerabend pointed out (in his
> _Philosophical Papers_), the terms in which any scientific observation
> is expressed inevitably depend on a metaphysical ontology.  For
> example, in order to count things, you have to believe that the
> universe is constituted in such a way that there are discrete entites
> that can be counted.
> Science cannot be exempt from Wittgenstein's observation that the use
> of language depends, at some point, on an unjustifiable belief that
> the words we use have coherent meanings.
> In very practical terms, as Kuhn showed in _The Structure of
> Scientific Revolutions_, the pursuit of what he called "normal
> science" depends on belief in a paradigm that justifies the costs and
> risks involved in undertaking certain kinds of research rather than
> others.  Far from being an unfettered pursuit of scepticism, "normal
> science" (i.e. almost all science) seeks mainly to extend the
> application of an existing paradigm, whose validity is taken for
> granted.  "Revolutionary science" occurs when one paradigm is
> abandoned in favour of another.  But the strength of belief in the old
> paradigm, so necessary for the social cohesion of scientific
> disciplines, often makes scientists resist revolutions with all their
> might.
> John

Simon Biggs

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM: simonbiggsuk

Research Professor, Edinburgh College of Art

s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

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