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Author Barry Linetsky

Part 5: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas, Unsplash.com)

Hayek’s Fallacy of Scientistic Prejudice (5/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

The consideration of the existence of a single scientific method – a prejudice towards a methodology for studying the world of human action using a scientific method developed for the study of a mechanistic world of natural laws – was referred to by economist F.A. Hayek as the fallacy of scientistic prejudice, or scientismfor short. Hayek wrote a series of essays about this problem that were published in 1952 as The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies in the Abuse of Reason. (All page citations for Hayek to The Counter-Revolution of Science (2nd Ed.), LibertyPress, Indianapolis, 1979.)

Hayek argues that prior to the 19thcentury, a feature of science was its choiceof appropriate methods to study disciplines of knowledge, including the study of politics, history, and economics. Following in the footsteps of Aristotle, science covered both the natural sciences and the social sciences. “The term science,” Hayek wrote, “had not yet assumed the special narrow meaning it has today, nor was there any distinction made which singled out the physical or natural sciences and attributed to them a special dignity.” (19-20) Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Part 4: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas, Unsplash.com)

 

A Distinct Methodology for Human Action (4/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

Unlike the method of discovery applied to the natural world that is governed by unchanging laws of nature that we seek to discover, the method of discovery is different when it comes to human action and the centrality of human action in the social sciences. The way one economist puts it is that “Actions are the field of phenomena which constitutes what we regard as the subject matter of the social sciences” (Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Economic Science and the Austrian Method, 35).

Nature is an endless succession of necessitated events, of cause and effect of entities that are incapable of seeking a specific goal or end. Wherever humans are involved, things are different because humans possess volitional consciousness, are goal-directed, and act purposefully in pursuit of self-chosen ends.

In this respect, human beings are not like billiard balls or the weather. Humans have the capacity to make choices and strive to achieve goals through self-initiated purposeful, goal-directed, action. At the same time, humans are constrained by, and have no escape from conforming to, the causal laws of nature that govern the universe, the same natural laws that are applicable to all entities. Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Part 3: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas, Upsplash.com)

Science for Civilization, or Chaos? (3/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

In moving beyond “common sense” and trying to understand and make sense of the nature of the world in which we live and function, there is occasionally a clash in perspectives that bubbles to the surface, as happened in a recent conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson in their attempt to identify the meaning of truth in a world centered around human action.

Where a conflict of ideas is encountered, what some people refer to as “academic” or esoteric issues come to the foreground.

How and whether such conflicts of fact, truth, and values are resolved as fundamental philosophic issues can be the difference between the success of human endeavours – perhaps even entire civilizations – and the flourishing of humanity on the one hand, and the fall into barbarism and human misery on a grand scale on the other. Read more

Author Barry Linetsky

Part 2: Science, Human Action, The Search for “Truth”, and Consequences

Thinking on the Potential Dangers of Science Myopia (Photo: Joao Silas at Unsplash.com)

Sam Harris–Jordan Peterson “What is True?” Post-Podcast Analysis (2/20)

© 2018, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved.

The challenge Sam Harris faced in his discussion with Jordan Peterson on his Waking Up podcast episode 62, in my opinion, is that he couldn’t or wouldn’t comprehend the position Peterson was putting forth because it was outside of his philosophic and scientific paradigm of a materialist/positivist/empiricist worldview. These are premises that in my assessment Peterson understands perfectly well and appears to reject as being insufficiently robust to capture the full spectrum of the subject matter of science. The materialist/positivist world-view is too narrow and exclusionary of the full gamut of real-world events important to, and reflective of, human meaning, human values, human experience, and human action. Read more