Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Logical Positivism?

Two Logical Positivists

Carter Kaplan posted on Sunday, March 31st the paragraph below by P. M. S. Hacker, Wittgenstein's Place in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996, p. 123), which Carter labels "Analysis of Intellectual Mythology":
In the days of the Enlightenment, science was rightly seen as being in the forefront of the struggle against religious mystification, superstition and dogma. Today science has replaced religion as the source and authority of truth. Every source of truth must, in the nature of things, also be a source of falsehoods, against which it must itself struggle. But it may also be a source of intellectual mythology, against which it is typically powerless. One great and barely recognized source of such mythology in our age is science itself. The unmasking of scientific mythology (which is to be distinguished from scientific error) is one of the tasks of philosophy. For philosophy is not the under-labourer of the sciences, but rather their tribunal; it adjudicates not the truth of scientific theorizing, but the sense of scientific propositions. Its aim is neither to engage in nor abjure science, but to restrain it within the bounds of sense, to curb the metaphysical impulse that is released by misinterpretations of the significance of scientific discoveries, to restrain scientists and philosophers (who have been beguiled by their myth-making) from metaphysical nonsense.
This has the admirable aim of preventing scientism, but it might go too far in rejecting all metaphysics. If what is called here "analytic philosophy" means the same as "logical positivism," then we must note that the famous Verifiability Principle itself is problematic. If there are only two sources of knowledge, logical reasoning (including mathematics) and empirical experience (including physics, biology, psychology, etc.), then how is the Verifiability Principle to be verified?

But perhaps Carter meant something else . . .



At 10:12 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

Yes, I am after something else. I am not a positivist.

In the following discussion--and though I agree with what Hacker says elsewhere--here on this question I follow Kenny:

I am an "analytic purist", so to speak.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Carter.

Jeffery Hodges

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