virus: Don't Sweat It

Kevin M O'Connor (
Mon, 28 Oct 1996 02:32:20 EST


On Sat, 26 Oct 1996 21:42:01 +0200 (Peter
=?iso-8859-1?Q?=D6kner?= ) writes:
>KMO wrote:
>>Don't sweat it. I'm about to do likewise, and I'm not even going to
>>provide any analysis. (...)
>Not even when you are being contradictory to yourself? Or am I missing

The two passages I quoted seem to contradict one another at first blush,
but I see them as both being quite compatible with one another. When I
first read the passage I quoted from Kuhn I took him to be saying that
there is no objective truth, (and he very well have meant just that) but
his suggestion that we abandon the notion that science moves us
progressively towards an ideal account of nature does not require that we
conclude that there are no objective facts about the universe, only that
there is no one perfect description of universe. I think David's recent
portrait analogy serves as an excellent illustration.

>Kuhn's cool and I liked the model of useful maps, but than this;
>>(...) if the statement "All truth is relative" is
>>objectively true, it's objectively false.(...)
>Are you starting up the merry dance of Russell's Paradox again - that
>of a
>statement about sets of sub-sets that does not include itself - or
>are you
>testing us, or what? Curioser and curioser!

I hadn't meant to allude to Russell's Paradox, and as for testing you, I
just wanted to give people a chance to take what they would from the
juxtaposed quotes before I stepped in and imposed my preferred
interpretation on them. That interpretation, by the way, is this; "There
is an objective state of the universe, but the progress of science is
progress towards more useful models of that objective state of affairs
and not towards one ideal account of them."

Take a look at Kuhn's words once more;

" We are all deeply accustomed to seeing science as the one enterprise
that draws constantly nearer to some goal set by nature in advance.
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."

I don't take Kuhn to be saying there is no objective reality; only that
there is no one ideal account of it. I included the quote from Schick
and Vaughn just to illustrate that it is incoherent to claim that there
is no objective reality.

Take care, all. -KMO


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