Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Is science a threat to society?

The late philosopher of science Paul Feyerebend's book The Tyranny of Science is soon to come out, and, like many of his previous productions, it promises to set the scientific establishment's teeth on edge. Feyerebend, regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, was always the scourge of those who see science as the only avenue to truth.

According to the Amazon page for the soon to be released book, his new, albeit posthumous book tells "the story of the rise of rationalism in Ancient Greece that eventually led to the entrenchment of a mythical ‘scientific worldview’." Undoubtedly the book will attract all the pious denunciations and self-righteous moralizing we have learned to expect from those who, unlike Feyerebend himself, haven't bothered to take the trouble to notice the metaphysical assumptions behind scientism, as well as how scientific belief actually operates.

We can't quote the new book, since it's not out. But have the smelling salts near at hand for those excitable scientific materialist friends of yours who may not be able to maintain their composure as we can quote one of Feyerebend's essays that is available on the Internet: "How to Defend Society Against Science":
Scientific "facts” are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts” were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner ... In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight.
So there.

HT: Uncommon Descent


Singring said...

Ah yes...philosophers and their aversion to evidence.

Maybe Feyerabend's book will include a chapter where he explains how he reconcile his hypothesis with the fact that the most stable, safe, healthy, developed and prosperous nations in the world are also those with the highest rates of literacy in science and the lowest rates of religiosity? A correlaton that is even evidence within individual nations (i.e. state by state comparisons in teh US)?

Somehow I doubt it. Its so much easier to just make stuff up and ignore the data.

KyCobb said...

Nonsensical rhetoric. If science is as oppressive as religion once was, why is it that it is perfectly acceptable in the GOP to argue that we don't have to worry about global warning because God promised not to flood the world again, or that all government has to do is regulate morality and God will take care of the economy? If science is tyrannical, its a benign tyranny, since masses of Americans wallow in superstitious ignorance.

One Brow said...

In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago.

As long as that judgement doesn't concern global warming, evolution, research into cloning, etc.

We are a nation controlled by industry, which sometimes finds science useful and sometimes irritating.

Janice said...
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