virus: Quotes

KMO prime (
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 01:02:05 EDT

On Fri, 25 Oct 1996 22:30:28 +0530 (Peter
=?iso-8859-1?Q?=D6kner?= ) writes:

>Our perception of reality is a continuously evolving fiction.
>I admit, I was lazy and patched some quotes I've been working with.

Don't sweat it. I'm about to do likewise, and I'm not even going to
provide any analysis.

>From "The Structure of Scientic Revolutions" by Thomas S. Kuhn,

"We may, to be more precise, have to relinquish the notion, explicit or
implicit, that changes of paradigm carry scientists and those who learn
from them closer and closer to the truth."
"But nothing that has been or will be said makes it (science) a progress
of evolution toward anything. Inevitably that lacuna will have disturbed
many readers. We are all deeply accustomed to seeing science as the one
enterprise that draws constantly nearer to some goal set by nature in
"But need there be any such goal? Can we not account for both science's
existence and its success in terms of evolution from the community's
state of knowledge at any given time? Does it really help to imagine
that there is some one full, objective, true account of nature and that
the proper measure of scientific achievement is the extent to which it
brings us closer to that ultimate goal? If we can learn to substitute
evolution-from-what-we-do-know for evolution-toward-what-we-wish-to-know,
a number of vexing problems may vanish in the process."

And, from "How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New
Age" by Theodore Schick, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn, pp 78-9:

"Instead of viweing conceptual schemes as cookie cutters, we can view
them as maps. The countryside can be mapped in many different ways. For
example, there are road maps, topographical maps, relief maps, and so on.
Different maps will use different symbols, and the features that are
represented on one map may not be represented on another. So changing
the nature of the representation doesn't change the nature of what's
represented. Different conceptual schemes represent the world
differently; they doh't create different worlds.
Since different maps are used for different purposes, it makes no sense
to say that any map is absolutely better than any other. Some maps are
good for some things, and some are good for others. The goodness of a
map will be determined by how well it helps us accomplish our purposes.
So we may agree with the conceptual relativist that there is no one
"best" way of conceptualizing the world. But this doesn't mean that
there is no one way the world is.


The foregoing considerations weigh heavily against relativism. But the
most serious flaw of relativism in all its forms is a purely logical one:
it's self-defeating because its truth implies its falsity. That is, it
refutes itself.
According to the relativist, the statement "All truth is relative" is
true, But in what sense is that statement true? Is it objectively true
or relatively true? Either way, the relativist is in trouble.
To refute a universal generalization, all you have to do is find one
counterexample to it. For example, if someone says that all ravens are
black, all you have to do to refute him is to find one nonblack raven.
If someone says that all truth is relative, all you have to do to refute
him is to find one objective truth. If the propostion "All truth is
relative" is an objective truth, it refutes itself because it serves as
its own counterexample. So if the statement "All truth is relative" is
objectively true, it's objectively false.
To avoid such self-contradiction, the relativist may claim that the
statement "All truth is relative" is only relatively true. But this
won't help, becuase to say that is just to say that the relativist (or
his society or his conceptual scheme) takes relativism to be true. Such
a claim should not give the non-relativist pause, for the fact that
relativists take relativism to be true is not in question. The question
is whether a non-relativist can provide some objective evidence for
believing that relativism is true. But this is precisely the kind of
evidence that the relativist can't provide for, in his view, there is no
objective evidence.
So the relativist faces a dilemma: if he interprets his theory
objectively, he defeats himself by providing evidence against it. If he
interprets his theory relativistically, he defeats himself by failing to
provide any evidence for it. Either way, he defeats himself."